Therapist bill thrusts Tennessee into national controversy

Renee Mclaughlin, senior medical director, Cigna HealthCare; left; Marisa Richmond, lobbyist for the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition; Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign president; Hedy Weinberg; and Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, gather outside the Tennessee Capitol on April 13. Gov. Bill Haslam signed a law allowing therapists to deny treatment to people from "sincerely held" beliefs, which advocates for LGBT people see as legalizing discrimination.

Tennessee's newly enacted law that allows counselors or therapists to deny service to clients is one of several proposed bills from lawmakers throughout the nation that seek to provide protections, largely centered on religious beliefs, to those who decline to employ or serve certain people.

According to the American Counseling Association, Tennessee will now be the only state in the nation to enact such a measure for therapists.

While the counseling law, signed by Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday, put Tennessee in the spotlight once again, the Volunteer State has also received significant attention after lawmakers considered a bill that would have required students to use restrooms that correspond with their sex at birth. The measure ultimately was tabled for the year.

Read more from our news partner, The Tennessean, here.