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In Tennessee, where state law allows counselors to decline to see LGBT patients based on their religious beliefs, UT researchers have studied how these refusal laws impact self-concealment and psychological distress.

Patrick Grzanka, assistant professor of psychology, and Leticia Flores, associate professor of psychology, discussed religious exemptions and discrimination against LGBT people with the Human Rights Watch.

Regarding the Tennessee laws LGBT people are saying, “‘ I don’t know if this is going to affect me personally, but it makes me feel worse about my state, and it makes me feel less safe’” Grzanka said.

Flores noted that religious exemption is particularly dangerous for LGBT youth, observing that “especially for people who are developing a sense of agency, I think being erased is incredibly harmful. In a way, it’s saying adults don’t care about them and are not going to take care of them.”