ACSSW Position Statements
Part of ACSSW's mission is to engage in advocacy for human rights, especially sexually related rights that are outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) which include the following:
the rights to equality and non-discrimination
the right to be free from torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment
the right to privacy
the rights to the highest attainable standard of health (including sexual health) and social security
the right to marry and to found a family and enter into marriage with the free and full consent of the intending spouses, and to equality in and at the dissolution of marriage
the right to decide the number and spacing of one's children
the rights to information, as well as education
the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and
the right to an effective remedy for violations of fundamental rights.
"Sexual rights protect all people's rights to fulfil and express their sexuality and enjoy sexual health, with due regard for the rights of others and within a framework of protection against discrimination" (WHO, 2006a, updated 2010).
Statements published on this page have been reviewed and endorsed by the ACSSW Board of Directors. Most are authored by members of the Social Justice & Advocacy Committee. Some have been developed with input from other ACA Divisions and Committees. References and resources are provided with each statement.
ACSSW Unified Statement on
As of March 21, 2023, 461 anti-LGBTGQIAP+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender expansive, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual+) bills have been introduced in statehouses across the country. These bills currently exist in over 40 states and have more than tripled in number since January of this year (Human Rights Campaign, 2023). Anti-LGBTGEQIAP+ legislation places transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive youth amongst the most targeted by these pervasive attacks. Aimed at severely limiting access to school resources, social support systems, and medically necessary gender-affirming healthcare, these bills run counter to decades of research supported by every major U.S. medical association (Human Rights Campaign, 2023).
Regardless of legislative status, the introduction and political discourse surrounding these bills leaves lasting effects on the health and well-being of LGBTGEQIAP+ identities. A national survey of shows that 93% of transgender and nonbinary youth worry about being denied access to gender-affirming medical care, 91% worry about being denied bathroom access, and 83% worry about being denied the right to play sports due to state or local laws (Trevor Project, 2022). And as of January 2023, 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth experienced worsening mental health due to the current wave of anti-transgender legislation and surrounding debate.
In alignment with our organization’s mission, Association of Counseling Sexology and Sexual Wellness (ACSSW) unequivocally stands in solidarity with the LGBTGEQIAP+ community. ACSSW remains committed to advocating and fighting alongside our friends, family, coworkers, peers, and community members affected by these divisive and harmful bills. As professional healthcare providers, we respect client autonomy as an inherent right and believe that medical decisions reside with clients, their caretakers, and their physicians. Gatekeeping access to age-appropriate, medically necessary, gender-affirming care is unethical and can increase the risk for negative mental health outcomes for gender diverse youth (ACLU, 2021).
ACSSW is devoted to providing support, resources, and education that promotes the health and wellbeing of these populations. We condemn all violence and discrimination directed at LGBTGEQIAP+ identities and adamantly oppose legislation threatening these communities. These bills stand in direct opposition to our core values, ethical codes, and professional responsibilities as healthcare providers. ACSSW will continue working to improve standards and delivery of care for LGBTGEQIAP+ populations and remains steadfast in our collective fight against oppression.
We know reading these reports of legislation targeting our communities can be difficult. If you have experienced violence or need support, please see the resources listed below:
The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Trans Lifeline: https://translifeline.org/
American Civil Liberties Union. (2021, April 1). Doctors agree: Gender-affirming is life-saving care. https://www.aclu.org/news/lgbtq-rights/doctors-agree-gender-affirming- care-is-life-saving-care.
Human Rights Campaign. (2023, March 27). Map: Attacks on gender-affirming care by state. https://www.hrc.org/resources/attacks-on-gender-affirming-care-by-state-map.
The Trevor Project. (2022, December 15). 2022 National survey on LGBTQ youth mental health https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2022/