• August 27, 2015

Augusta State U. Is Accused of Requiring a Counseling Student to Accept Homosexuality

A graduate student in school counseling is accusing Augusta State University in federal court of violating her constitutional rights by demanding that she work to change her views opposing homosexuality.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Augusta, Ga., the student, Jennifer Keeton, argues that faculty members and administrators at the university have violated her First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion by threatening her with expulsion if she does not fufill requirements contained in a remediation plan intended to get her to change her beliefs.

Ms. Keeton's lawsuit accuses the university of being "ideologically heavy-handed" in imposing the requirements on her "simply because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity." It argues that her views, which hold that homosexual behavior is immoral and that homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle, would not interfere with her ability to provide competent counseling to gay men and lesbians.

An Augusta State spokeswoman, Kathy D. Schofe, declined on Thursday to comment on the litigation, saying that the university had not yet been served with the lawsuit and officials there would need time to devise a response.

Ms. Keeton is being represented by lawyers affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian lawyers. The group has brought a similar lawsuit on behalf of an Eastern Michigan University graduate student who alleges she was dismissed from a counseling program for her beliefs about homosexuality. In 2006 the group extracted major concessions from Missouri State University in settling a lawsuit filed by a former social-work student who refused to respect a class project's requirement that she sign a letter to the state legislature in support of homosexual adoption.

In a news release announcing the lawsuit against Augusta State, David French, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said: "A public-university student shouldn't be threatened with expulsion for being Christian and refusing to publicly renounce her faith, but that's exactly what's happening here. Simply put, the university is imposing thought reform."

The lawsuit says Ms. Keeton has stated in classroom discussions and written assignments that she believes sexual behavior "is the result of accountable personal choice," that people are born male or female, and that homosexuality is a lifestyle and not a "state of being." It says faculty members at Augusta State confronted her about her beliefs based on such statements and on a student's claim that Ms. Keeton has advocated "conversion therapy" for homosexuals in conversations with her peers—an allegation that Ms. Keeton denies.

The lawsuit says Augusta State faculty members developed a remediation plan specifically for Ms. Keeton and told her she would be expelled from the College of Education's counselor-education program if she did not fulfill its requirements. The plan calls on Ms. Keeton to attend workshops on serving diverse populations, read articles on counseling gay, lesbian, and bisexual and transgendered people, and write reports to an adviser summarizing what she has learned. It also instructs her to work to increase her exposure to, and interaction with, gay populations, and suggests that she attend the local gay-pride parade. Ms. Keeton has refused to comply.


1. lcrandal - July 22, 2010 at 04:00 pm

If she believes that the earth is flat and the moon is made of green cheese will she pass science? It seems to me that the issue is that she accepts what is shown to be true by the weight of scientific evidence. Where scientific consensus is lacking, she may be more free to assert her individual (or ideological) views.

2. drdenesh - July 22, 2010 at 04:04 pm

While this bizarre and troubling lawsuit may consider the faculty to be faulty, your last-paragraph typo inadvertently proves what crossword enthusiasts have known for some time, that faculty is just faulty with a c.

3. physicsprof - July 22, 2010 at 04:05 pm

"her views... interfere with her ability to provide competent counseling to gay men and lesbians."

What's the big deal here? Counselling is not heart surgery, it is nothing but making sound waves that a person might find comforting and come back to her later or (s)he might not. If she could not make gay men and lesbians feel better, she'd lose her practice with them and may be with straight clients as well. If she is capable and they do not complain, then let it be. Do we have to regulate everything?

4. pschmidt - July 22, 2010 at 04:11 pm

Regarding post no. 2:

It appears that the typing of journalists on deadline can be faulty as well, and there are times when, alas, automatic spelling checkers cannot save us. I am having the typo fixed as I write this.--Peter Schmidt

5. reader12ab - July 22, 2010 at 04:11 pm

What other parts of science will she choose not to accept, if they conflict with her religion? Maybe she should go to a Christian counseling education program where they'll be fine with her flight away from biology and so forth.

6. contreras - July 22, 2010 at 04:11 pm

There is a distinction between beliefs and behavior.

As a gay person, I can simply dismiss Ms. Keeton's opinions, for they are merely views. I have several good friends who consider homosexuality immoral for religious reasons, but that has no effect on our friendship. Opinions are not actions.

The issue here is one of professional practice. If Ms. Keeton wants to enter a profession with certain norms and requirements of professional practice, her behavior must conform to those norms. She does need to be able to act within the expectations of the school counseling profession, which is not the same as a pastoral counseling role.

Ms. Keeton claims to be able to provide professionally appropriate counseling to gay people. I suspect that she would find it difficult, but until she fails to do so, what exactly is the problem?

If she does fail to provide appropriate counseling, she must, of course, be dismissed on grounds of unprofessional behavior and failure to perform the duties of her position. But until that happens, I don't see a legitimate obstacle to her program completion.

She could believe that all teenagers should admit that Elvis is alive, the Holocaust never happened, Larry Creeden is really Jerroll Dolphin in whiteface and Fidel Castro is a Republican. None of that matters unless her actions are inappropriate.

Alan Contreras
Eugene, Oregon

7. laischron - July 22, 2010 at 04:12 pm

The situation would seem to parallel the position of an ecology or biology doctoral student whose religious beliefs lead the student to deny the existence of evolution. It is difficult to see how an institution could graduate a doctoral student who believes the Earth is 6000 years old and evolution is a myth (forget about being a "theory"). That such a student has a first ammendment right to hold such views and speak about them is one thing. However, as far as I know no student has a constitutional right to receive a degree from a traditional 21st university preparing students to advance the state of the art of ecological/biological education or to advance the state of scientific knowledge.


8. jffoster - July 22, 2010 at 04:12 pm

Icrandal (1), homosexuality may indeed turn out to be genetic, but the state of that hypothesis is hardly as secure as that of the spherical shape of the Earth or the composition of the Moon.

9. gbthorne - July 22, 2010 at 04:14 pm

It is encouraging to see challenges to political correctness arising in academia. Many PC views have advocates who claim to have the weight of scientific evidence on their side. Sadly, there are many instances of conflicting scientific evidence being suppressed across a wide spectrum of issues. Does the weight of scientific evidence prove that life begins at viability outside the womb? Are people who are pro-life going to have remediation plans in the future? What appears to be operative here is a question of differences in faith and belief. Universities are supposed to be bastions of freedom of thought--as long as those thoughts are politically correct.

10. 11179102 - July 22, 2010 at 04:15 pm

Someone needs to discuss with her the difference between personal opinion and professional opinion/obligation. She may also benefit from transferring to a seminary or bible college and getting a degree from whatever religious-sponsored institution from which she would best identify. That way, she would end up employed in the appropriate venue to serve the clientele seeking and expecting her particular service.

11. rutgers2 - July 22, 2010 at 04:19 pm

How in the world is this a bizarre or troubling lawsuit? I am a clinical psychologist, the graduate of an APA doctoral program, internship, and post-doc. If what is alleged is true, that is an absolute disgrace and absolutely actionable. Moreover, if this is an APA accredited program, their accreditation should be revoked. You cannot force a free thinking graduate student to attend workshops, read articles on counseling gay, lesbian, and bisexual and transgendered people (unless it is a course requirement), or attend a gay pride parade (the most absurd thing). She may or may not be able to counsel a gay person. She would really need to explore that in supervision. Again, if true, this is horrendous.

12. rutgers2 - July 22, 2010 at 04:23 pm

Thank you Alan Contreras for your excellent post. She may or may not be able to work with gay clients. It might depend on the issue. But clearly that question must be addressed using competent supervision and education regarding ethics in psychotherapy.

13. fireflygirl - July 22, 2010 at 04:24 pm

I agree with Mr. Contreras: until this student PROVES herself to be incompetent to effectively counsel homosexual individuals, a public university has no right to impose additional requirements on her, with the threat of expulsion looming if she does not comply. Everyone has the right to receive education, regardless of what they choose to do with it. Whether you or I agree with her beliefs is irrelevant: she has a right to pursue this course of study and to retain her personal Christian beliefs.

Should she, in the future, prove herself to be ineffective and damaging as a counselor due to these beliefs, then her license should be reviewed and she should pursue a career in the Christian counseling realm where she will be an effective assistance. Until such a time, however, Augusta U. has no right to enforce anything on her. We have freedom of religion in this country- ALL religions. When and if Ms. Keeton proves her religion has made her incompetent or detrimental, then this may become an issue. Until then, no one can FORCE her to believe anything she doesn't believe. It's a two way street, folks.

14. coxenford - July 22, 2010 at 04:27 pm

This woman is enrolled in a program designed to provide counseling services in the public k-12 system. Would you want her meeting with a troubled eighth grader who is beginning to realize that s/he is homosexual or might be? If we take the approach that her (presumably) substandard work will end up with her losing her position, how many innocent clients will suffer before that happens? What is the role of the graduate program in preventing harm to future clients? By my reading of the remediation plan, the school did not tell her to change her beliefs, but merely to become more educated in this area.

15. unclibrary - July 22, 2010 at 04:28 pm

I've thought for a long time that people who advocate equal rights for homosexuals and equal social acceptance for same-sex relationships, are doing the cause a disservice by getting drawn into the argument about whether one chooses ones sexual identity or is it thrust upon one. It's certainly true, as conservatives on the issue argue, that, while one cannot choose whether or not one has certain feelings or attractions, one can choose whether or not one acts upon them. The question then becomes, does one have a moral obligation to repress homosexual impulses and/or does one have a moral right to act upon them. Religious arguments are irrelevant because religions disagree. Appeals to religion only result in the same kind of moral relativity that conservative Christians accuse Athiests of practicing. The only relevant evidence is empirical, objective and scientific. We have to ask ourselves 'is there any objective evidence that general acceptance of same sex domestic relationships is harmful to society as a whole?' and 'is there any evidence that children raised by same-sex parents are any more or less screwed up than children raised by herosexual parents?'

16. rutgers2 - July 22, 2010 at 04:34 pm

Coxenford, the school is MAKING her do work above and beyond what other students are doing because of her beliefs regarding homosexuality. That is patently unfair. She should be learning about her ability to work (or not work) with gay clients within the context of the counseling program and supervision not by trying to brain wash her. How does making her go to a gay pride parade make her more educated in the area? It might make her a worse counselor.

17. jgpeters - July 22, 2010 at 04:41 pm

After reading some of these comments I feel like I just stumbled into the "bizarro world." How on earth can you compare the belief that "homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle" with a belief that the world is flat. I'm sorry, but if you believe that there is any universal consensus on whether homosexual behavior is "normal" you are sorely misinformed. In fact, it wasn't that long ago that the DSM IV listed homosexuality as a disorder, and in reality, it was only removed for political reasons, not because the majority of psychologists believed that it was no different than heterosexuality.

And as to the genetic aspect of homosexuality, it is a totally irrelevant issue. I can demonstrate that violence, alcoholism, and a myriad of other behaviors and conditions have a genetic component. The fact that genes pre-dispose someone to behave a certain way does not make a behavior right or wrong. I am happy to concede that many (but not all) homosexual people have a genetic "push" toward same-sex attraction. I happen to believe that I was blessed (or cursed) with an extremely strong libido, but I don't use that as an excuse to cheat on my wife, I work to control it.

I have many gay friends that I enjoy and respect as persons. However, I still believe that homosexuality is wrong. I also believe that extramarital sex is wrong and premarital sex is wrong. However, I would not discriminate against a gay person any more than I would discriminate against someone who is living with someone without being married. Would I have to change my beliefs if some psychology program told me that their opinion is that sex is fine as long as everyone consents? Would they send me to "counseling" to make me accept that their moral views were correct and mine were antiquated?

This is not at all like the ID people trying to deny scientific evidence of evolution. This is a group of self-appointed people trying to force amorality on a moral person. They should be ashamed.

18. caitlinyaeger - July 22, 2010 at 04:55 pm

If she were a tenured faculty member at this university she could hold these beliefs, so why can she not as a student?

19. janesays - July 22, 2010 at 04:58 pm

It is my feeling that this lawsuit should fail miserably. While I agree that this student is entitled to her own beliefs and religious convictions, there is no place for homophobes in the counseling arena. I recently saw a similar news story where a minister was refusing to marry an interracial couple because of his beliefs. Guess what! this does not fly. Find a new profession or learn to deal with your fears and phobias.
This woman claims her beliefs will not affect her ability to counsel a gay/lesbian/queer client. I beg to differ, especially if the problem at hand is sexual.
I hope the college wins this suit. I'm sick of Christian bigotry and homophobia. Find a new profession!

20. dboyles - July 22, 2010 at 05:00 pm

"From the point of view of psychoanalysis, the [virtually] exclusive sexual interest felt by men for women is also a problem that needs elucidating, and is not a self-evident fact," as Freud indicated. How is it that object choice (read: choice of object) continues to be (1) denied, and (2) further criticized where it clearly exists, irrespective of gender? I suggest these debates ignore what Freud had to say.

21. coxenford - July 22, 2010 at 05:04 pm

Actually Rutgers2 the article indicates that they suggested she go to the parade (not required) and basically recommended that she get more exposure to this population. Without knowing all the details, can we assume that they have not already tried to get her to "learn about her ability to work (or not work) with gay clients within the context of the program"? I suspect that they did try that and that she was unsuccessful. So, instead of flunking her out, they offered her the chance to do some extra reading and learning about the population. I still think this is a special case because a school counselor cannot refuse to work with a particular population the way an individual in private practice can. And I wonder if it's possible to counsel someone if at heart you believe they are immoral and wrong -- wouldn't that come through? It's not like serving people at the local diner, or even teaching them. A counseling relationship requires trust and intimacy, not to mention positive regard. How can that exist for these clients? I'm not saying they did everything right (I don't know) I'm just saying it's not as cut and dried a violation of her rights as it may appear.

22. rutgers2 - July 22, 2010 at 05:09 pm

Janesays: How do you know she is a homophobe? What,a Christian has to be a homophobe? Who says she has fears or phobias? What evidence do you have that she is a bigot? You must be a member of the gay thought police. Geez, ease up!

23. jbloss2 - July 22, 2010 at 05:11 pm

My whole issue is the punitive nature of the remediation plan due to her views. Her ability to succeed in the program should only hinge on her ability to understand the generally accepted views and their application. The same way a Christian can learn how to keep kosher without agreeing to practice it or advocating it. Any implication she has tried to force her views on anyone else she has already denied.

24. walrus - July 22, 2010 at 05:14 pm

@jgpeters: If you were to get into practice and tell your clients that extramarital sex is wrong, then many would stop coming to you. That's true. And society gives those who do have sexual relationships outside of marriage enough support that they would be free to regard you as a puritanical nut, fire you, and find someone who is going to listen to them rather than judge them. But it's precisely because there is no longer much social stigma to sex outside of marriage that the patient would probably know that your views are those of a minority. A homosexual patient being treated by a professional therapist may not have the same cultural support.

However, as you point out the DSM IV no longer lists homosexuality as a disorder. It doesn't much matter whether the reason is political or not, though I suspect you're wrong on this, the fact is that it is no longer recognized as a disorder by the profession no matter how wrong you think it is. Therefore, as a professional, your personal opinion does not matter. If you can't treat a gay person the same as if you would treat a straight person because of your beliefs, then you are violating your professional ethics. If your religious beliefs are in conflict with your professional obligations, you have to make a choice. You cannot blame the profession for having standards that are designed to help people, not make them feel judged by the very people to whom they turn for help.

As far as this counseling student goes, the article claims that she announces her views to everyone who will listen, inside and outside of class. Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that she would impose her views on her clients, and it is certainly a fact that she is unwilling to learn how that could be so damaging to someone from a stigmatized group.

It seems to me the program is doing everything it can to allow her to stay in the program because they probably have a suspicion she's itching for that kind of fight. Like David Horowitz's effort to force the humanities to hire conservatives, she is trying to force a profession that explicitly rejects her approach to the profession.

Now, if she would get as outraged about the Christian groups that go to other countries and require those seeking help to participate in their religious events I might see this as really being motivated by principle.

25. rutgers2 - July 22, 2010 at 05:17 pm

Good points Coxenford. We don't know the facts, only as they have been presented in the aricle. However, I would have to believe that there are many school counselors who have personal beliefs that would be antithetical to any number of their clients on moral and other grounds. Probably not ideal to work with them on an on-going basis. But, school counselors I would presume are ethically obligated to refer students to another professional if they cannot ethically treat them. Making an appropriate referral is an ethical imperative is it not?

26. tgeor_09 - July 22, 2010 at 05:18 pm

I agree with the side of Augusta University officials.

Can she really be an effective school counselor if she's toting her hate speech around campus?

27. akprof - July 22, 2010 at 05:19 pm

It may be possible for this students to select employment sites where counseling gays would be highly unlikely - just as it is generally possible for a nurse who abhors abortion to not work in a place where encountering the issue of abortion is likely. The dilemma would arise when the unexpected occurs and the nurse is confronted with a professional obligation to provide care to a woman who is experiencing potentially life-threatening complications from an abortion (in an E.R., for example) - or the counselor encounters a suicidal gay client. Quite frankly, it is easier for me to understand how a nurse could compartmentalize the issues in the sort of situation I described - after all, the nurse didn't participate in the abortion. But I do find it extremely difficult to see how someone who abhors homosexuality could reasonably and effectively counsel a gay contemplating suicide for reasons related to homosexuality.

Regardless, the faculty will NOT be able to change the students beliefs - that can only happen over time and with increasing maturity.

28. landrumkelly - July 22, 2010 at 05:19 pm

First Amendment rights would trump other considerations in a court of law on matters such as this. There actually no settled theory as to the cause of sexual orientation, for what that's worth--which is not much one way or the other where First Amendment questions come into play. Ever since Thomas v. Collins sixty-five years ago, the Court has given preferred status to First Amendment rights when those rights come up against other claims of right(s).

29. cmcmille - July 22, 2010 at 05:22 pm

This is not an uncommon situation in counseling, social work and clinical psychology programs that do not discriminate at the time of admission based on religious beliefs. These belief are not limited to homosexuality. These programs have Muslim and Christian students who believe women are morally inferior to women and who believe women should subjugate themselves to their husbands. They have Christian students who believe it is their responsiblity to evangelicize to non-Christian clients. These students are at risk of harming women and non-Christians who come to them in crisis and who are expecting expert clinical service. Programs have a responsibility to take action in many of these circumstances, but it is rarely clear what actions should be taken and which beliefs to respect and which to openly repudiate.

30. irving - July 22, 2010 at 05:22 pm

I believe this student has the right to express her personal opinions and values the same as anyone else and they should have nothing to do with her profession or how she may or may not conduct herself as a counselor in the future. How could anyone foresee that unless she is currently disrespectfully and outwardly displaying racist or biased behavior towards homosexual people. Her personal belief system does not mean that she would discriminate or otherwise not be a good counselor to one of her students who may happen to be homosexual. It is just an assumption that she would not be able to counsel students with an alternative lifestyle...i.e. in this case, homosexuality. Any counseling she may do with someone who is homosexual may not having anything to do with their sexuality at all. More likely, this may not even come up since her work will mostly be with helping students with their educational goals. Having said that, yes counselors even in this field, as oppossed to clinical counseling, will at times have to help students work out issues that may be interferring with their educatonal goals...Things like, alcohol or drug abuse, family issues, breavement issues, and this list goes on. Her personal beliefs or experiences do not necessarily mean she will be unable to adequately do her job. This is like saying one doesn't like brown hair so anyone that comes in her office with brown hair is not going to get the same service or worse, as some have suggested, the student might end up scared for life! Further, I doubt she'd get booted from her program for saying she personally doesn't care for brown hair. Doctor's repair broken ankles but it doesn't mean they've ever had or experience the pain of one. However, it doesn't mean that they won't adequaley repair the ankle just the same. Further, the doctor might not even know or care for the patient but it still doesn't mean he'll do a bad job of the repair. As well, counselor's counsel people all the time for things they may or may not agree with or have experienced themselves. For example; how many counselors have counseled divorced people or couples when they may or may not have experienced it themselves. Perhaps their religious beliefs even prohibit themselves from getting a divorce. Still, does that mean they might not be helpful to the person who is going through one? Yes, it seems to make sense that a person counseling someone who has been through the same issues may be a better counselor but are there statistics showing that's true or just a logical assumption? Really, I think most students who go into this field because they have a passion for students and desire to see them succeed, regardless of their ethnicity, backgrounds, sexual orientation, or whatever. If that's not the case, then I would say she is in the wrong field. I commend universities' efforts in trying to be inclusive for all students, fair and unbiased...isn't it about time. However,taking it to the point that a student can no longer have a personal opinion based on their belief system if it doesn't agree with the university's values or marketing message they want to send, is going to far..

31. walrus - July 22, 2010 at 05:34 pm

@landrumkelly: Does first amendment protection that mean I can sue my boss if he fires me after I call him an idiot?

Does it mean that I can sue my university if they fire me after I teach a class on the innate inferiority of people from the South Bronx?

Freedom of speech does not trump one's obligation to act according to the professional standards of one's chosen profession.

32. profperf - July 22, 2010 at 05:46 pm

For me, the issue is really about the "public" dimension of the licensing/certification her program leads to. If she is a private clinician, she is free, within the ethical boundaries established by whoever oversees licenture and practice, to believe what she wishes and to give the counsel she as a professional believes is appropriate. But if the outcome of the degree is to certify her to work as a school counselor, then she needs to at least know and acknowledge that she will have to abide by nondiscimination laws and policies of publicly funded schools. Since that presumes helping to create a climate free from devaluing one class of people from another, she would need to demonstrate to me, anyway, if I were in the position of helping her through the degree, that she can put aside her religious beliefs sufficiently to help an LGBT student work through whatever issues present themselves without devaluing the sexual identity. I'd say the same for a fundamentalist Christian who may need to work with a Jewish student who is experiencing anti-Semitism--would it be okay for her to say, "if you just accepted Christ as your savior, your life would be so much better"? I don't think so and, yes, I think the cases are analogous--clearly, many fundamentalists (of any religion) think nonbelievers ae damned--that does not give them license to apply this belief to their counseling, hiring, or any other aspect of employment, except perhaps within a private, religious organization which does not accept any public money.

33. walrus - July 22, 2010 at 05:46 pm

@irving: I doubt that this would be an article if Ms. Keeton was successful at keeping her personal opinion out of her academic work, which suggests she will have a similar difficulty professionally. I suspect that no one who has commented on this issue could give a hoot what her beliefs are as long as she doesn't do things like advise her gay clients to get "conversion therapy," as she is alleged to have done.

In short, no one disagrees with you. You're missing the point that something had to have happened, and often, for it to come to this.

34. agpbloom - July 22, 2010 at 05:49 pm

tgeor_09 says:

"I agree with the side of Augusta University officials.

Can she really be an effective school counselor if she's toting her hate speech around campus?"

Where did this piece mention "hate speech"? I wasn't even aware that this was the primary allegation against Ms. Keeton in the case examined by Schmidt.

So...by definition, are you accusing her of "hate speech" because her vocal patterns do not conform to a profession's perceived consensus.

If so, many thinkers of the past would have been considered guilty of "hate speech" because they did not conform to a particular consensus pushed by an interest group or clique.

Also, in response to some of the previous posts...to my knowledge no one has successfully demonstrated that homosexuality, bisexuality, lesbianism or other orientations are hard-wired genetically like eye color or the shape of one's ear lobes.

There is a lot of special pleading here for this poorly-constructed pet theory.

35. frankietx - July 22, 2010 at 06:00 pm

She's simply in the wrong academic program and should have researched the program requirements more thoroughly before applying for admission. There are plenty of Christian universities where she can earn a similar degree and by doing so will save her future employer from misunderstanding her educational and religious background, which is obviously a major focus in her life. If she wants to be a Christian counselor and allow her faith to guide her professional career, she should study at a Christian university and plan to work exclusively with Christian clients.

36. 22031456 - July 22, 2010 at 06:09 pm

This woman would be harmful to her LGBTQ and allied clients. Any person seeking a general counseling degree and a publically sanctioned license (not Christian credential) clearly should be prevented from obtaining those credentials if it is her express intent to do that which has been shown to contribute to psychological harm, depression, low self-esteem, and even suicide. In professional mental health circles the standard of practice is based on the science, which has never demonstrated any lack of mental health or moral rigor among LGBTQ individuals. Conversion therapy is well documented to bring harm. This woman might as well be holding onto 1950s Birmingham Alabama beliefs and seek to treat African Americans as such.

37. reader12ab - July 22, 2010 at 06:34 pm

Anyone who thinks she can separate her beliefs and attitudes from her behavior should read the literature on unconscious biases, implicit associations, etc. There's little disagreement there what we think or believe affects our behavior - even if we don't *intend* it to.

The bigger issue here may be her unwillingness to change something she thinks no matter what the science says. I'm not saying the jury is in on the question of sexual orientation (but I think they're approaching the jury box), but is this just an example how how inflexible her thinking is - her unwillingness to change based on empirical evidence? Will this apply to other areas, too? Like when we finally figure out that medication is 3x better for problem X than psychotherapy, will she refer immediately for meds, or continue to try and counsel?

38. reader12ab - July 22, 2010 at 06:42 pm


At about the 1:30 point:

The ADF is suing Agusta State "...so this future counselor can complete her degree, free to have and to share her biblical beliefs."

39. mxb22 - July 22, 2010 at 06:49 pm

The problem is Social Work itself, which started long ago as a "profession" of secular do-gooding. Some may say it qualifies as a sort of "science," but it surely isn't organic chemistry. Like "counseling," it's loaded with political values that have only the slightest connection, if any, to empirical science. It may consider itself humanist, but this incident show how easily it turns to bullying, intolerance and smug righteousness. The Episcopal Church has been called the Republican Party at prayer. Likewise, it could be said that university Departments of Social Work are the Democratic Party in a hot tub.

40. crunchycon - July 22, 2010 at 06:58 pm

"These programs have Muslim and Christian students who believe women are morally inferior to women and who believe women should subjugate themselves to their husbands. They have Christian students who believe it is their responsiblity to evangelicize to non-Christian clients." (did you mean to write, "women are morally inferior to MEN"?)

cmcmille -- obviously you have a jaded (and false) view of what Christianity teaches. Your remarks are offensive, at least wrt Christianity. Islam does appear to have those concepts, but definitely not Christianity.

As for evangelizing (rather than evangelicizing -- new word creation?), you are wrong there, too. The Bible says Christians are to be witnesses to the world. You obviously misunderstand the term "witness" as it is used here -- perhaps you are thinking of Jehovas Witnesses? "Christian witnesses" may be that always friendly, always cheerful receptionist, that secretary/office support person who goes out of his/her way to do more, and do it cheerfully, the civil service person that sees someone lost in the hallway and stops to ask if s/he can help the person locate the person/office/location that s/he wants. Witnesses, in a Christian sense, take all forms, many through example of behavior without ever saying they are Christ-followers, much less attempting to evangelize another.

I am truly sorry you had such a bad experience (or was it many?)with overzealous christians, or misled "fundamentalists" who were judgmental, or whatever form the interaction took. I hope you heal from it in time.

41. agpbloom - July 22, 2010 at 07:14 pm

reader12ab writes:

"Will this apply to other areas, too? Like when we finally figure out that medication is 3x better for problem X than psychotherapy, will she refer immediately for meds, or continue to try and counsel?"

Yeah, we're figuring all of this out. Just look at all the psychological disorders that have been "cured" by meds in American society today! We're on the primrose path to mental well-being.

We've been told for years by the psychiatric prophets that "medication is 3X" (maybe even 10X...or 100X) better than those old "outdated" approaches.

Yes, and look how mentally healthy our society is!

What a success story! How do we know? Well, the psychiatrists and their pharmaceutical buddies tell us so. Case closed. Right??

And we KNOW a whole menu of sexual proclivities is INHERITED like eye color. Why?? Segments of the LGBTQ community tell us so.

C'mon future counselors...get with the program and learn their phrases.

Or...you may get exiled to the colony for "Christian" counselors.

42. princeton67 - July 22, 2010 at 08:02 pm

Until Augusta can show that her beliefs interfere with her ability to counsel students, their demands are premature. Comment #1 rhetorically asks if Ms. Keeton believes that the earth is flat and the moon made of green cheese, can she pass science. The answer is yes, she can, as long as her answers mesh with "the weight of scientific evidence". What she thinks or believes is her own business; what she practices, society's.
Many physicians oppose, for example, abortion or premarital sex, yet provide excellent care for those suffering from complications or either act.
Has Augusta developed remediation plans for, let us say, atheists to attend Mass or Sedar? Bisexuals to attend Monosexual (straight) seminars? Before any of these groups have actually practiced counseling??

43. rsilverman - July 22, 2010 at 08:06 pm

I wonder, were the actions or position of Augusta State be the norm, where would the many conservative Christian colleges recruit their student personnel staff members? That is, while clearly all institutions, regardless of their published missions and values have a wide variety of students, to include those who are not centrally mainstream with regard to "official" expectations, shouldn't the many postsecondary institutions and others organiztions, such as mega-churches, have access to trained and competent potential staff whose personal positions mirror the institutional one.

I recognize the need for counseling personnel to be respectful and helpful to anyone who they see. But I think this should be the case for any professional. Lawyers do not have to personally support their clients actions that require legal defense to defend them and physicians don't have to agree with patient life styles to try to cure them. Why should counselors have to be support a life style to provide good service?

Having spent close to a half century as a faculty member, and experiencing how rare it is for academics to be evenhanded or even respectful to colleagues whose theoretical foundations, methodological preferences, institutional locations, etc, and etc, are not compatible with theirs, I find it laughable how easy we call for those beside ourselves to be open. I do not mean openness in roles such as peer reviewer or those requiring professional judgements. Were we as respectful to those of our colleagues with whom we fundamentally disagree as those who are calling for such action here.

44. fergbutt - July 22, 2010 at 08:43 pm

Science is not neutral. If the received view is that homosexuality is fixed, then contrary evidence never sees the light of day. Look at the dogma that reifies global climate change. Let people decide their own future with out social engineering.

45. jgpeters - July 22, 2010 at 08:44 pm

@Walrus I can't say that I disagree with much of what you say. I am disheartened that many things that were once considered sacred by society (marital fidelity, a young person's chastity) are no longer regarded with the same importance. To me it seems odd and sad that these values would have become the minority.

But, I agree that one needs to be able to separate belief from public action. I may have not been completely clear previously, but part of my point was that I don't treat homosexual people any differently than heterosexuals and I personally would not want to share my beliefs with them unless pressed emphatically. I happen to be a business prof and not a psychologist (although my training in OB included much from psychology), but I believe that I could separate my personal beliefs if I were in a position as a counselor. That may be hard for some to understand, but I wouldn't have to feel a behavior conformed to my moral beliefs to support what helped someone else cope with their issues. And most certainly a person's sexual orientation would have no bearing on non-sexual issues.

And just to clarify the DSM issue, the DSM III R (Revised edition) was where homosexuality was delisted as a diagnosis in, I believe, 1987. And there certainly was a huge amount of politics involved (e.g. the APA at the time was being picketed by gay rights groups) but I can't factually assert that the decision to make the change was a political move, only that politics were in some way involved.

46. crunchycon - July 22, 2010 at 09:00 pm

excellent post, rsilverman.

47. walrus - July 22, 2010 at 09:05 pm

@princeton67: Why are people like you not paying attention? This is not a case of Ms. Keeton being publicly persecuted, but rather a case of her time and again demonstrating that she imposes her religious beliefs inappropriately. The article mentions several incidents (which she denies), and she has been accused of telling a gay student to go to conversion therapy. (And if true, how ironic is that!)

Surely, she is not the first or the only Christian in that program with those beliefs. Considering how many Christians there are in the country, how logical is it to imply that the program is interested in persecuting Christians? She's being persecuted because she's a Christian! The charge would be laughable if some people didn't take it seriously.

So why this particular problem with this particular individual? Let's ask it this way, when watching her on the video link reader12ab posted at #38, do you see her saying anything like, "I understand the concern, but I can distinguish between the requirements of my job and my personal beliefs" like the Protestants forced Kennedy to do over and over again? Nope. No such distinction because she doesn't recognize it. What she wants is the prestige that a credential from Augusta bestows without adhering to the standards that credential represents.

@silverman: It's one thing to disagree with a colleague, even childishly, but when we think our colleagues are about to go proselytize to our students we have an obligation to do what we can to stop them. That is an entirely different issue.

@jgpeters: Even if I accept politics were involved, so what? Politics were involved in designating slaves three fifths of a human being as well as in declaring that they worthy of equal protection under the law. Politics were involved in outlawing sexual harassment in the workplace. To this day, not everyone agrees with the assumptions of these laws.

Politics are involved in how some diseases are understood and dealt with, such as HIV/AIDS, and politics were involved in calling homosexuality a disorder in the first place. Does that reversal mean that all therapists have to be personally convinced that homosexuality is not a matter of choice or that it's not wrong? No. It only means that they CANNOT treat the people that come to them for help as if there IS something wrong with their choices or their being. If they cannot set aside those personal beliefs, they clearly have some issues they need to work on before they should be entrusted with the mental well-being of children.

48. rsilverman - July 22, 2010 at 09:26 pm

Dear Walrus,

I suspect that we have had a different history, but my institutional experience within my department, not to speak of other social science-related areas in the university, were so extraordinarily prozelytizing that those students who were uncomfortable with such often made it known to more balanced folks that they had to "tow the line" or they would be considered traitors and have less, if any, voice and legitimacy. Lots of students "bit their tongues" to seem to fit in.

This is not an unusual story, and I don't think there are very many of us who have experienced faculty being "stopped" from presenting their ideologies in their classes, making it uncomfortable for those not in consensus to articulate their views. Deans don't stop faculty, and I suspect that issues of academic freedom legitimately prevent them from so doing. And faculty who don't share the ideology typically, at least in my experience, at most, complain to close peers, faculty and maybe graduate students, and go their own ways. And that is why many departments are very cold places, or "viper's nests"--certainly not a new metaphor, unfortunately.

49. walrus - July 22, 2010 at 09:48 pm

rsilverman: OK. So just imagine how much more harmful it is when a young person goes to an insitutionally-sanctioned adult for help with her feelings, only to have that adult tell her that her feelings are indeed wrong and that she needs to look for guidance from the Lord, go to conversion therapy, or at the very least spend the rest of her life not acting on those feelings?

If college or even graduate students are intimidated into "toeing the line" on academic issues, imagine how intimidated a kid would feel. Augusta State has every right, indeed it is obligated to do all it can to prevent a person who shows every intention of doing exactly that from getting certified.

This case is about the religious right attempting to impose their ideology in places where it doesn't belong. It's a much broader problem than this particular case.

50. amnirov - July 22, 2010 at 10:33 pm

We can require that students pass tests by answering the majority of questions the way we want to have them answered, but we have no right to tell them what to think. I don't give a toss, for example, what students think about Jackson Pollock, but I expect that they will be able to intelligently and knowingly discuss his art.

51. walrus - July 22, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Geez! I just read part of the complaint. It turns out that her inappropriate disposition toward the LGBT community isn't the only problem. They also want her to take a remedial composition course. This appears to me to be an effort to coerce Augusta State to promote someone who literally cannot make the grade.

52. walrus - July 22, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Scratch that last post because it's only a side issue.

53. d_and_der - July 23, 2010 at 01:35 am

If she can pass the program, I don't think her ideology is grounds for explusion. If any legal intervention should be involved perhaps it should be at a counselor's place of practice. There are plenty of crack pot counselors/psychitrists out there. The consumer/patient has the right to know something about the person to whom he/she is confiding. Perhaps the sign on her office front should read (just joking)"Welcome. I am a religious zelot who barely graduated from college. I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."

54. butteredtoastcat - July 23, 2010 at 07:29 am

The degree is a master's in "school counseling" through the university's school of Education. (M.Ed)

(See http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100722/ga-school-forces-christian-student-to-alter-beliefs-to-graduate/index.html )

Keeton plans to become a school counselor.


Therefore, arguments about "consumers" or "patients" being able to avoid Jennifer Keaton and her fundamentalist Christian ideology are ridiculous. There is no way that a K-12 student at Keaton's future school can exercise the power of a consumer and "choose" not to be counseled by her if referred to her office by a teacher. Those K-12 students are sitting ducks, not adults with the "power of the purse". Any struggling gay student or sexually active (or pregnant) student would be a potential victim of Keaton's attitudes, which she has made clear would drive her approach to counseling. There are other articles that make this point more effectively than the one above:



Educational counseling is not science. It is not even necessarily based on science or well known statistics. It is based upon social norms and is often ideological. For example, schools of education consider all students of all races able to achieve the same level of success, all factors being equal. Differences in student outcomes by race are considered to be due social conditions, like poverty and discrimination. No school of education that I know of has ever taken "The Bell Curve" (with its veneer of scientific authenticity) and used it to suggest that Black students are inferior to whites and will never learn at the same levels. That would be an unthinkable ideological stance for a socially responsible school of education. It is also something that, as a nation, most of us would consider an intolerable and unethical attitude towards racial minorities.

In the same way, our general society has decided that homosexuality is NOT a sin, disease, or otherwise horrific condition, but a legitimate sexual orientation. Schools of Education are merely reflecting this social belief, as they reflect our social belief that all children of all races have the same learning potential. Whether sexual orientation is genetic or not, the culture has decided that it is far better to accept homosexuality and gay marriage than it is to condemn the LGBT community and enact psychological destruction on its members.

Jennifer Keaton comes from an odd subgroup of fundamentalists who do not subscribe the the beliefs of the more general culture. She is not a good representative of the general societal norms; nor is she a good representative of Christianity, many of whose followers and churches actually support tolerance in issues surrounding gay marriage and rights. Keaton merely represents her subgroup. Whether the ideology of that subgroup should find its way into the public schools is a social question, not a scientific one. If Keaton were an advocate of "The Bell Curve", would we want her responsible for the counseling of Black students?

The fact that Keaton is an advocate for the most intolerant portions of the Bible is RIGHTFULLY a matter for schools of education. If people disagree on the genetic component of homosexuality, they also disagree on the interpretation of the Bible. What our general culture DOES agree on is the equal and humane treatment of K-12 students, the promotion of acceptance and the prevention of discrimination, violence and teen suicide. These are all ethical and ideological positions, not scientific ones.

Whatever the results of this lawsuit, Jennifer Keaton and her ilk should NOT be allowed access to the public school system. They do not represent the views of the larger culture, nor do they represent its ideological views on tolerance and proper student guidance. And the damage they could do far outwieghs their right to their marginal opinions.

55. facultydiva - July 23, 2010 at 07:52 am

How would you feel if you were a high school student confused about your identity, went to talk to your counselor, and were faced with someone who couldn't help you through your problem because of their religious beliefs.

56. supertatie - July 23, 2010 at 07:57 am

In the end, what this comes down to is an impermissible viewpoint: "You cannot have this belief." I fail to see how this is the province of a university.

The whole you-can't-be-an-effective-counselor schtick is a load of crap. It's nonsense to say that one cannot be a counselor and a practicing Christian. There are plenty of them. Most counselors are interested in helping their patients get to the root of their OWN conflicts, not the counselor's. And they all have opinions, but their code of conduct usually precludes them telling the patient what those are, especially when they are directly related to the patient's issues (e.g., "Your problem is your mother was a bitch," or "Your problem is husband is a bum and you stick with him" or "Your spouse must be a saint, because you are a slut.").

It cannot be that a counselor's only role is to validate whatever conduct a patient engages in. Often, behavior is symptomatic of internal conflict. If a patient seeking treatment from a counselor expresses deep conflict or confusion or sorrow about his or her sexuality, a Christian counselor's job would be to help the patient get to the root of that issue. For example, while I believe that some individuals are born with a chemical or biological predisposition to being attracted to the same sex, there is also AMPLE literature about persons choosing homosexual conduct in response to a deep physical or psychological trauma (like sexual abuse, for example) - something it's not considered polite to mention anymore, despite its prevalence. (Those of you with gay friends, ASK them some time how many of them - or their partners - have sexual abuse in their backgrounds.) If this comes out in counseling, and a patient wishes to abandon homosexual conduct as part of their healing process, is this now somehow "bad"? Is it only OK if such a choice is made despite the counselor's personal beliefs about homosexuality?

How is any of this different from a Christian physician who advises a promiscuous patient that there are serious health risks associated with that behavior, and that it might be in his or her best interest to stop sleeping around? If the Christian physician's advice is grounded in science and it happens to coincide with his or her own moral compass, so what?

Which brings me to another point that so many here seem to miss. The best moral structures have a basis grounded in science - which should be how we distinguish between moral codes which are beneficial, and those which are specious or harmful. Promiscuity, for example, spreads disease. That is true for both heterosexual and homosexual promiscuous conduct. Heterosexual promiscuity wreaks even more havoc, frankly. Illegitimacy results in large numbers of teenage mothers, absent fathers, and rampant poverty. Adultery destroys marriages. And all of this is devastating for children, with predictable psychological and sociological effects. There are plenty of solid, scientific reasons for rejecting these behaviors (and yes, stigmatizing them), but instead of recognizing the congruity between the science and the morality and using the science to validate the moral code, we reject scientifically demonstrable conclusions precisely because they coincide with a particular (Judeo-Christian?) moral code.

This is absurd. In the name of "tolerance," we can pretend all of the consequences listed above aren't true, and call anyone who points at them as "judgmental." But the consequences are there, nevertheless. For decades now, our society has tried to pretend that all the nasty consequences of undisciplined sexuality were only vestiges of narrow-minded thought; as soon as we changed people's attitudes, all those consequences would just go away.

This is about as unscientific as you get, as about as successful as arguing that if we just pretend there's no such thing as gravity, everyone can jump off the roof and fly.

57. fauresearchdiv - July 23, 2010 at 08:35 am

Homosexuality has not been proven scientifically to be genetic or biological. And even if it were proven, it still holds very negative consequences. Retarded people are born that way, but we still dont hand them keys to a car.
Having thought police is really scary. This is a Christian nation still and we still have freedom of religion. She is right and I hope she wins big time. I think I may even send some money to the lawyers to help with her defense.

58. tallenc - July 23, 2010 at 08:43 am

I disagree with her views,and I wouldn't seek her out as a counselor myself, but that's beside the point. Her progress toward a degree must be based on the quality of her academic performance.

59. 22228715 - July 23, 2010 at 08:48 am

Immediately previous posts - it's not about her thinking, it's about her actions as a prospective professional. Being gay is not a disorder (that's not an opinion - in psychology, there is a formal professional practice for listing and categorizing disorders, and homosexuality is not one of them). It is the faculty's responsibility to NOT certify, or to legitimize by put their names and reputations behind, a graduate who does not adhere to the minimum standards of the profession.

Being Christian (or a Tea Party advocate, or a Francophile, or a Trekkie) is also not in the DSM. If a prospective counselor were to take action to change or remediate these things through therapies that were potentially harmful to the client, the student should not be endorsed by this program.

That said, any program that is not accredited or endorsed by the APA could take her or any other theoretical student, but then the employer and the client beware.

60. goxewu - July 23, 2010 at 08:50 am

Re, way back, #3:

"Counselling is not heart surgery, it is nothing but making sound waves that a person might find comforting and come back to her later or (s)he might not."

Right. And a blog comment is nothing but making little black squiggles on a white screen that a person might find insightful or in error and cause him/her to post a riposte. Or not.

By the way, what about that Christian Science devotee who's training to become a school nurse? Or the Hindu in the livestock-raising program at A&M? Or the Orthodox Jew trying to become a small college football coach? Or the Jehova's Witness in the hematology department? Or the Fundamentalist LDS member studying to become a marriage counselor?

And don't you just love (#57), "This is a Christian nation still and we have freedom of religion"?

61. 22192658 - July 23, 2010 at 08:53 am

"It argues that her views, which hold that homosexual behavior is immoral and that homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle, would not interfere with her ability to provide competent counseling to gay men and lesbians."

Sorry, but speaking as a Christian - and someone understands what it means to think critically - this doesn't wash. Her views make her incompetent to counsel gay men and lesbians, and anyone else who doesn't fit her personal religious views. To me there is no fundamental difference here than with a doctor, nurse or anyone in the healthcare field who bases the care he or she gives (who gets it and who doesn't) on personal religious views. I don't see that the university has infringed on this student's rights. Rather this student needs to consider that her views dictate that this may well not be the profession for her.

62. gadoglover - July 23, 2010 at 08:56 am

It is not surprising but nevertheless telling to review these comments and see the clear anti-Christian bias as well as the usual double standard applied to Chirstians in terms of what they are allowed to believe, say and do.

63. niolonra - July 23, 2010 at 09:01 am

I too am shocked by what I've read.

#14 Coxenford - Thank you for being the first and sadly one of the few here to raise risk of harm to clients. How many clients would she have to harm (#13 and #53) before her school should say, "Well, it seems we now have proof that her personal beliefs -do- impair her clinical skills..."? And then what should they do -- dismiss her, or offer remediation to give her the chance to improve her skills? If you choose the latter, then what would they require of her to demonstrate she was attempting to improve her skills?

Clients are not guinea pigs for students. We are ethically responsible for what our students do, and ethically bound to protect the welfare of our clients when they are treated by our supervisees and students.

But how do you make the -reasonable- guess that she would be harmful if she were to see clients? Give her the chance to separate her personal and professional views (as in #10 which a class paper can easily allow), give her the chance to interact respectfully and thoughtfully with peers (which a class can easily allow), and give her the chance to read the relevant literature to learn more about counseling. And, like #21 I am willing to bet that the only reason the school even knows about her personal beliefs is because she could not separate the personal from professional in a paper, could not avoid offending her peers in and out of classes, and could not or would not learn about the literature (and neither conversion therapy nor telling people they could convert without therapy have any scientific support as effective treatment).

A student could believe the moon is made of green cheese or could believe homosexuality is wrong or could believe marriage between the races is against god's will, but if they could not write a paper explaining the views held by others, could not have a thoughtful discussion about different views, and could not knowledgeably understand literature in peer reviewed journals presenting evidence for a different view.... then how can they understand a client's differing views, engage in thoughtful discussion about those views, and recognize and understand relevant literature, for example ummarizing what we know about those who hold these views and the experiences and choices they are likely to face?

You don't have to agree with divorce to be a divorce lawyer, but you do have to know the ins and outs of divorce law well to be one and to represent someone getting a divorce. Lawyers can choose not to go into divorce law, however, and many do. You do not have to agree with abortions, but you do have to know what to do if you are one of the medical staff in the ER when a woman comes in with complications affer an abortion and needs help. You do not get to say, "I'm sorry, but providing you with medical treatment is against my religious beliefs..." or "I will help you, but I must let you know that this is your own fault because you sinned against God..." That's why nursing is a helping profession, and law is not.

And unless this student intends to hang the sign on her door as #53 jokingly suggests that says, "Homosexuals may seek help from me, because even though I believe you are sinning against God, and I will say this to you as it is my constitutional right to do so, I respect you and think I can be helpful to you with your probelms" (#28) then this school has the ethical obligation to offer her the chance to improve her skills, and then to dismiss her if she fails. She can get all the education she wants as a student at large or a student in another program and school (#35), but she does not have the right to have a degree giving her entry into a helping profession from the school if she has been judged by the school faculty to be unable to fulfill the responsibilities she assumes with that degree and profession.

#40 Crunchycon - Your comment was insulting. While you may not hold the views expressed, you do not represent all christians or christian groups (some of which make quite a big deal out of that "wives obey thy husbands" line), so do not assume anyone who disagrees with you has been emotionally injured in some way and will see your views as correct after they heal.

64. interface - July 23, 2010 at 09:02 am

Sounds to me like Augusta State U is trying to out-crazy crazy. Never a good idea. If she meets the program requirements for graduation -- all of them -- then grant her the degree.

Having said that, I tremble at the thought of her working as a school counselor. Every single day, untold numbers of gay and lesbian students struggle to stay sane and hopeful in an insane environment that seems determined to tell them they are hopelessly evil or sick. Far too many of them don't make it.

65. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 09:11 am

Clearly, the Puritans are still alive and well. That whole idea of freedom of religion, which Keeton EXPLICITLY DENIES, is completely lost on them. In her interactions with her adviser, Keeton insists that the Bible's teachings apply to everyone, not just herself. She wants the job in order to be in a position to "help" kids. And what entity does a Christian advise people to turn to in turbulent times? What text do they recommend people go to for guidance? Hint: The answers are not Freud and the DSM IV!

@gadoglover argues that we're applying a double-standard by not allowing people like Keeton to impose her views on her future clients. That is, we're being intolerant of an intolerant perspective.

Very well. Guilty as charged.

66. landrumkelly - July 23, 2010 at 09:20 am

@walrus on post#31:

"Freedom of speech does not trump one's obligation to act according to the professional standards of one's chosen profession."

Those are your words, not mine, of course. What I addressed in post #28 was only the legal-constitutional question because it is in fact so difficult to resolve the other issues. I did offer this brief aside: "There actually [is] no settled theory as to the cause of sexual orientation, for what that's worth. . . ." While this is true, there is (and has been for quite a while now) an emerging body of data which overwhelmingly supports the idea that one does not choose one's sexual orientation. I cringe when my students in political theory/philosophy allude to "homosexuality as a lifestyle choice" or even as a "lifestyle." (I cringe even more when remarks like that come out in my course on Philosophy of Social Science because I know that we are in for an extended exchange about dis-verification, falsifiability, etc.)

I cringe the most because I know that behind every negative or hostile opinion directed against gays is total ignorance--combined with blissful indifference to the hurtful impact that such remarks are having on others in the class, some of whom are almost certainly gay.

I also cringe, however, when a person such as yourself hides behind phrases such as "professional standards of one's chosen profession" to justify horrendously authoritarian educational standards. I am quite sure that counseling of any sort does not (and should not) require (or tolerate!) an extensive re-education course of its students and apprentices before they can practice in that profession. Surely, however, such programs can have built-in course requirements that deal extensively in an open-minded way with such problematic issues--without assuming that the answers are written in stone. As much as we might like unanimity of thougth on controversial issues, we do not have it and will never have it. About the best that we can hope for is awareness of the complexity of arguments on all sides of controversial issues, and thus promote the norms of toleration and detachment--not to mention reminding students that science is always about the suspended judgment.

Such open-ended inquiry built into the curriculum in fields such as counseling should surely avoid anything that "[threatens] her with expulsion if she does not fufill requirements contained in a remediation plan intended to get her to change her beliefs." There is nothing open-minded or tolerant in such an approach. One would be exchanging one form of tyranny and intolerance for another.

Open-ended inquiry should be the curricular requirements of any such program, not the exchange of one more mindless dogma for another.

If the student is correct is saying that Augusta State is "threatening her with expulsion if she does not fufill requirements contained in a remediation plan intended to get her to change her beliefs," then the university has indeed gone way over the line in its attempts to promote precisely the kind of intolerance that is needed in the counseling profession.

I cannot help but wonder, however, if the quote that I have just given from the article is not simply one person's claims. I have a hunch that the faculty and administrators at ASU would see the issues and their proposed solutions quite differently.

I expect that these issues and claims (and counter-claims) will morph over time as they are played out in the press, in the courts, and in the literature. One hopes that the final outcome will be a fuller grasp of a number of related but not identical issues dealing with how best to counsel persons who do not believe as one does, and whose lives are predicated upon very different foundational beliefs and realities than one's own.

Walrus, you want simple and authoritarian solutions to complicated issues. Let us hope that you do not get what you are wishing for. The cure could be worse than the disease.

67. landrumkelly - July 23, 2010 at 09:23 am

I just wrote that "the university has indeed gone way over the line in its attempts to promote precisely the kind of intolerance that is needed in the counseling profession."

The post should read "tolerance," not intolerance, of course.

68. gsawpenny - July 23, 2010 at 09:34 am

So let me get this straight...

1. Counseling, an act as physicprof (post #3) accurately described as "...nothing but making sound waves that a person might find comforting and come back to her later or (s)he might not" is now a "science."

2. To be an effective counselor you must believe that every lifestyle of every person is acceptable or must be accepted (except Christians and Republicans).

3. Unless you adhere to a stunningly limited definition of this so-called profession you are unable to meet an acceptable academic standard for graduation.

Wow. I would hate to be a Muslim in thus field, or a woman who has been assaulted. I wonder how so many of these "scientific professionals" would deal with two different young men who want to express their youthful anger - a white one who acts out as a neo-nazi and a black one who embraces gang culture? Using this model can a homosexual counselor not counsel a straight kid? Clearly an avowed agnostic should not be allowed to help a child that is dealing with matters of faith in a school setting.

How can anyone possibly advance in such a narrow "science" when it refuses to admit debate and opposing views.

I think niolonra (#60 above) has a point. All school counselors should hang signs that express their race, creed, color, prejudices, personal past, and limited capabilities. For example:

"I am a Christian..."

"I am a Muslim..."

"I am a woman who has been sexually assaulted..."

"I am white..."

"I am black..."

"I am gay..."

And best of all...

"I hate religion and people who don't share my own equally narrow-minded political views..."

I for one think that Augusta State University is in for a big loss.

69. duchess_of_malfi - July 23, 2010 at 09:34 am

Agreeing with others -- If her papers and class discussions in *graduate school* were full of her personal opinions instead of relevant information and she refuses to learn about a group of people she might counsel, then she is failing on an academic basis, either by choice or because she is incapable of adapting. Neither form of learning resistance shows sound academic or professional judgment. Her personal judgments are not relevant and if she can not or will not learn to zip it, what is the school supposed to do? This is not K-12 public education; she chose this program. The school has a responsibility to the profession and the people whose lives it touches to grant degrees to people it judges competent, not people who judge themselves to be competent.

70. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 09:38 am

@landrumkelly: What's your criticism of my claim that one cannot use freedom of speech to challenge professional standards? That they are indeed... STANDARDS that one must adhere to for certification?! How authoritarian of me!

Keeton says "Augusta State is "threatening her with expulsion if she does not fufill requirements contained in a remediation plan intended to get her to change her beliefs," which is a misrepresentation of the facts. Read the lawsuit. Her adviser doesn't have a problem with her Christianity. The problem is her belief that the teachings of the Bible apply to all, and her eagerness to share these views inappropriately. This means she would impose her beliefs that homosexuality is a choice and that it is wrong in her interactions with clients.

Don't just read the article, read her actual lawsuit, which is hyperlinked. Watch the video linked at #38. She has no intention of doing what you just described. Her position is explicitly spelled out. I am basing my position on her own words.

71. gsawpenny - July 23, 2010 at 09:38 am

Sorry for the follow-on post.

If you want a clue as to haow this is going to turn out check out the following in the chronicle...


It is in today's news section of the online CHE.

72. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 09:55 am

What does "follow-on post" mean?

73. 7738373863 - July 23, 2010 at 10:02 am

There's no question that Augusta State's "remediation plan," however well intended, is a disaster, but it comes in response to the fact that public school counselors do not get to choose who they see, and they and the authorities become involved in behavior-changing interventions only when the client is a threat to her/himself and/or others.

No one chooses to be gay, and no one chooses to get a K-12 education. Under the terms of employment as a school counselor, Ms. Keeton would be expected to do her best to help all of her students to solve their problems. If a gay student is under stress from parents in the process of coming out, a counselor's job is to help the student--and the parents--to find ways to mitigate that stress and accept each other, not to say to the student, "just don't be gay," or "as a Christian, I believe that the Bible denounces homosexuality."

If Ms. Keeton wants a choir to preach to, as at least one respondent has noted, there are a lot of evangelical Christians and Christian schools that hold beliefs similar to hers. But as a publicly funded state university, Augusta State, acting in the spirit of the Morrill Act, trains teachers and counselors to work in public education, where attitudes such as Ms. Keeton's are not, nor ought they be, tolerated.

74. cleverclogs - July 23, 2010 at 10:22 am

I'm with walrus on most of this.

But I also think that everyone in any of these counseling programs should probably take a course on world religions, and one on social customs / traditions / structures, hopefully specific to the population with which they will be dealing for the most part. Tolerance is a two-way street.

75. mabeelrc - July 23, 2010 at 10:27 am

Yes, of course it violates her First Amendment Rights. But that's okay because she is a Christian.

76. rutgers2 - July 23, 2010 at 10:47 am

Directly from her complaint: "ASU faculty have promised to expel Miss Keeton from the graduate Counselor Education program, not because of poor academic showing or demonstrated deficiencies in clinical performance..."

If her academic and clinical performance are up to par, as her motion indicates, then Augusta State is in big trouble because her rights have been horribly abused.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with graduate students talking about personal beliefs in class, outside of class, or with other students. Profs do it all the time. This happens every single day. I would also submit, that it is probably good that she has discussed her personal beliefs in class because that is part of therapist training.

Without facts that she has said or done anything inappropriate with a client and that client has been harmed, she has a very strong case.

Anyone who values free speech and unfettered exchange of ideas should be appauled by this.

77. gordonmr - July 23, 2010 at 10:55 am

@fauresearchdiv - July 23, 2010 at 08:35 am

"This is a Christian nation still and we still have freedom of religion."

This is NOT a Christian nation. Our founding fathers established a religiously neutral nation, and a tragedy of our time is that so many people are striving to undo all that was accomplished by the wisdom of the founding fathers who framed for us a constitution that would protect the religious freedom of everyone regardless of personal creed.

78. nativepoet - July 23, 2010 at 10:58 am

<Comment removed by moderator>

79. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 11:20 am

Thanks, cleverclogs. And I think your suggestion is a good one.

@mabeelrc: The First Amendment does not force a school or employer to accept those who espouse opinions that are antithetical to the core mission of the program or business. One is free to proclaim loudly and proudly that there is no God, for instance, but the First Amendment does not protect that person from being fired as a Baptist minister. One is free to opine that cigarrette companies are murderers, but the First Amendment does not protect her from being fired from the advertising agency that represents Philip Morris. One is free to declare that the Bible applies to all people, but the First Amendment does not protect her from being expelled from a program that depends on an open-mindedness that she outright rejects. Yes, they're imposing at least a performance of open-mindedness, just as working in an advertising agency imposes a performance of believing in the product the client sells (many don't), and being a Baptist minister imposes at least a performance of believing in God (again, there are many who don't).

The First Amendment does not mean one can say whatever they want in all situations and without consequences.

80. balancement - July 23, 2010 at 11:45 am

Hey, it's a University--the whole idea is not to let their students leave their halls still dumb as a sack full of hammers.

81. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 11:46 am

I suspect that many of you in support of Ms. Keeton would sing a very different tune if she were a Palestinian who regularly expressed her belief in the illegitimacy of the Jewish state ("How could such an attitude not be expected to create tension if she treats a Jew?"), or if an atheist regularly expressed a conviction that Christians are misguided fools.

But those of us who are opposed to Ms. Keeton would be saying exactly the same thing.

82. goldenrae9 - July 23, 2010 at 11:55 am

The student should have properly researched her program to ensure that it aligns with her value set. Augusta State University is not the only program in the nation with this specific program and the student should have used her personal responsibility to find an appropriate program.

83. lhornega - July 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Just FYI. Many Christian students believe homosexuality is immoral. However, these students are politically correct during class discussions. She was punished because she was not pc and had the guts to publicly state state her beliefs. Also, most of the public school counselors I know believe that teenagers have immoral sex lives, sexual preferences notwithstanding. However, that doesn't impact a counselor's ability to help a client.

84. 11280066 - July 23, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Let me understand. Some of you are saying that in order to be an effective counselor, you must agree with the behavior of the individual counseled? In that case, you should disclose all your values and biases before you accept a client. That would be a long list indeed. In addition, that reduces your profession to affirmation. I suspect that many people go to counselors because they want to change their emotions and/or behaviors.

85. rightwingprofessor - July 23, 2010 at 12:19 pm

In the complaint you can see the faculty are telling her she must validate ANY moral beliefs of her clients. Somehow I don't believe they have thought this through.

Anyhow these smug, arrogant pricks for faculty are going to lose this lawsuit and this program is going to go down in flames. Good for you Jennifer for not backing down!

86. 11280066 - July 23, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Thank you, rightwingprofessr, for that clarification.

So! A counselor is obligated to validate the acting out of any moral (or amoral, I assume) belief the client might hold? Wow.

87. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 01:19 pm

@11280066: Not expressing one's opposition to a client's sexual orientation is not the same as agreeing with it.

@rightwingprofessor: They don't mean "validate" in the sense you're talking about. They mean she must "validate" moral beliefs in the sense that she can understand where her clients are coming from. If she's taken on a client that is, say, a serial killer, she has to "validate" his rage by attempting to understand what motivates it and what triggers it. She must validate his beliefs only to the extent that she can get into the mind of the killer, but that does not mean she has to find murder acceptable or approve of his motivations. It just means she cannot use her position to inform him how much she disapproves of him and why. On a smaller scale, she has to be able to "validate" that what a given child is experiencing is legitimate in order to help them think through what they want to do next. Validation here has nothing to do with judgment and everything to do with empathy.

This case is headed to either a settlement or it will be thrown out of court for lack of grounds. There's no way she will win this case in a court of law, thank goodness. But it sure has been an interesting experience debating these issues.

88. physicsprof - July 23, 2010 at 01:20 pm

##85-86, "In the complaint you can see the faculty are telling her she must validate ANY moral beliefs of her clients."

I doubt they were THAT stupid. She would have immediately asked, "and what if my client believes that homosexuality is immoral, shouldn't I be prepared for that too?"

89. katisumas - July 23, 2010 at 01:30 pm

There are already lots of good comments, but I'll add my two bits:

The fact that she's in a program that would license her to work in a public school system K to 12, is the issue. Intolerance of homosexuality meshes in with bullying problems in a school as well as the high rate of suicide of gay teens, higher than the rest of the teen population. Some groops who call themselves Christian actively oppose anti-bullying laws because they feel such laws somehow (!) protect/encourages gay kids.

Someone believing homosexuality is an abomination and a choice could easily lead a troubled teen to think of her/himself as not worthy of life.... As so many other posters have suggested, she should go to a Christian college and do pastoral counseling --though I dread the nefarious effects this private counseling would have, but that would be her right to be a private lousy counselor, but not one on the public dime....

90. blackbart - July 23, 2010 at 02:06 pm

Students should not be required to espouse a view with which they (and, like it or not, a good cross-section of the American population) find morally repugnant.

The notion that this student would not be capable of counseling a homosexual person because of her religious beliefs falls somewhere between ignorant and asinine. I hold a moral belief that people shouldn't smoke, but that doesn't prevent me from having deep, meaningful conversations and relationships with smokers, even as they smoke. They can even discuss with me their own mixed feelings about smoking openly and honestly, even when they know how I feel about smoking personally. This is a result of the trust built into the relationship--a trust that, I would imagine, also must be fostered in a counseling relationship. Thinking that such trust can't be just as readily fostered when the object of disagreement is sexuality rather than smoking is just sad. But the flavor of bile already spilled on this thread suggests that many posters can't even imagine having a conversation with someone who holds the opposite position of them on this issue. Perhaps this attitude recommends that they not go into the counseling profession themselves, but that they leave it to people (like this student, apparently) who are capable of compassion towards those who disagree with them.

Not for nothing, but where is a conservative Christian supposed to turn for counseling when his sibling or child or spouse announces his/her homosexuality? Should he be expected to accept the support of a counselor who believes he's a bigot and a homophobe? That's the only kind of counselor apparently deemed acceptable by this school.

Let's stop using our students and their curricular and professional progress as props to support our own moral or political agendas, hmm?

91. dank48 - July 23, 2010 at 02:21 pm

Does "false dichotomy" ring any bells?

92. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 02:32 pm

@Blackbart: "The notion that this student would not be capable of counseling a homosexual person because of her religious beliefs falls somewhere between ignorant and asinine."

I agree, and fortunately none of us have said or even implied such a "notion." If you reread the article and the thread, you'll see that the point is precisely Ms. Keeton's unwillingness to do as you so eloquently suggest. No one here has expressed any anti-Christian sentiments or suggested that committed Christians cannot make effective counselors or therapists. I suspect that some of the most effective also happen to be Christians. That's not the issue. What is at issue here is precisely Ms. Keeton's apparent inability and unwillingess to listen to clients, in this case potential kids K-12, who may be coming to terms with homosexuality. She has rejected the program's efforts to make her more sensitive to this group so that she can sit across from them and really listen to them.

93. blackbart - July 23, 2010 at 03:05 pm

@Walrus: Well, I'd point your attention to post #19 ("I'm sick of Christian bigotry and homophobia. Find a new profession!") and the tenor of post #29 as the first evidence that such a notion has already been implied here.

The article above states that Ms. Keeton's lawsuit claims her views, "which hold that homosexual behavior is immoral and that homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle, would not interfere with her ability to provide competent counseling to gay men and lesbians." That seems to say precisely the opposite of your claim that she is "unwilling" to counsel a homosexual person.

Nothing written in the article supports your claim that she has an "inability and unwillingness to listen to clients... who may be coming to terms with homosexuality." She clearly has a strong opinion about homosexuality, as do many of us--her main undoing seems to have been stating those opinions when asked about them in the course of her studies. Would all have been better if she had kept her opinions to herself? Is that the kind of classroom we want to encourage?

The "program's efforts to make her more sensitive to this group so that she can sit across from them and really listen to them" seem more to me, and to many posters on this thread, it appears, to be efforts to help cleanse her of her "erroneous" way of thinking about homosexuality. (If it sounds a little Orwellian, I think that's because it is a little Orwellian.) Moreover, nothing in this coverage actually suggests that she can't "sit across the table from [people who are gay] and listen to them." As I tried to express in my previous post (perhaps ineloquently), listening to people--and even helping people--is hardly the same as agreeing with people.

Gsawpenny (#68) got it exactly right: NO ONE graduating from this or any counseling program is equipped to help any person with any background with any problem. Gsawpenny puts forth many examples; I can think of many more. I'm willing to stipulate that Ms. Keeton will probably never be as good at helping gay students with issues of sexual identity as she may be helping other students with other needs. But that shouldn't disqualify her from the profession. I suspect that the only reason this particular mismatch between would-be-counselor and prospective-client-profile is being foregrounded is because the school has chosen to do so for reasons of political correctness.

94. niolonra - July 23, 2010 at 03:16 pm

To be clear on a few points ...

76. rutgers2 "ASU faculty have promised to expel Miss Keeton from the graduate Counselor Education program, not because of poor academic showing or demonstrated deficiencies in clinical performance..."

I am glad you quoted this. Who is best able to judge whether a counseling student demonstrates deficiencies in her clinical performance? That would be the Faculty, who are professionals in the field in which they are training. And what is really interesting is that --they appear to have made just such a judgment-- and planned for the student's remediation. I understand the student does not agree with this assessment, but this is hardly surprising. How many students come to you after the semester is over and say "The F you gave me was a fair grade - Thank you for being so reasonable." How many students in danger of dismissal agree that perhaps they should be expelled? How many people file a lawsuit and say "I am wrong, but I still want to sue someone for something..."

For those who keep saying "So let me get this right. A counselor has to believe/practice x to help people who believe/practice x?" No. No one has said that. I don't need to be schizophrenic to help a schizophrenic, nor Baptist to help a Baptist. I don't need to endorse or espouse or lobby for psychotic, or religious, beliefs to help someone who has them.

I do, however, have to have some understanding of what it is like to be schizophrenic - I don't need to have a psychotic break (though talking to people who have had one couldn't hurt), but I can work to understand the impact of medications, stigma, frightening hallucinations, family dysfunction... If I am unwilling to do that simply because I believe that schizophrenics choose to have hallucinations and could choose to stop if they wanted to, then I can not help schizophrenic clients.

I don't need to go to a Baptist church (though doing that couldn't hurt), but I can work to understand the beliefs the client holds, how they impact the client's life choices, how those around the client react to these beliefs... If I am unwilling to do this simply because I believe Baptists choose to be Baptists and could stop doing that if they really wanted, then I can't help Baptist people either.

Consistent with this, I don't have to be gay to help a gay person, but I do need to work to understand the impact of stigma (perhaps by reading the responses of educated people here), how the gay person's choices impact their life, and how the community around them reacts to them. 87 Walrus tries to explain this is what "validation" means - helping the person accept as real the experiences they have (no, you don't help a schizophrenic accept that the voices are real, but rather that the experience really is an hallucination).

And from the article... attending a workshop, reading something and writing a reflective paper on it, and observing the community would seem to be learning activities designed to give this student --just such an opportunity to learn-- how to be a better counselor. Or at least they are no more an effort to "cleanse her" of her erroneous opinions (#93) than most of our classes are, and if you have graded any final exams or papers then I don't need to tell you how often that fails miserably.

95. jrod643 - July 23, 2010 at 03:30 pm

To Katisumas,
Moral beliefs and tolerance are two different things. Intolerance is simply ignorance or the inability accept an individuals choices. Moral beliefs are quite another thing. If she does not wish to believe that Homosexuality is a moral choice that is one thing. However, the article said nothing about her being intolerant. As a moral stance I too think that Homosexuality is wrong and is a product of choice and conditioning. Certain physical attributes or inherent personality traits may lead to said choice but the fact remains... We're human for a reason and we have choices. I don't know about the homosexual community as a whole but I for one do not like thinking that I'm drawn a certain way before I was ever given my own free will. My choices are my choices and I own them. Most Christians echo this train of thought. It does not make us intolerant it simply means that there is a standard by which we live by. Other's are free to live by different standards as they see fit.
The problem here is that she is being forced on threat of expulsion to comply with the moral statutes of a professor. The reason there's all this huff is because she is not budging and for that I applaud her.
As per the science debate. Christians are not ignorant as a whole, not to say there aren't sum (TBN). Yet I ask you where is there a single shred of empirical scientific evidence that even suggests that homosexuality is a predertimined trait? Yet, scores of evidence have been collected on the dangers of Homosexuality. There's a reason why there are two sexes. Whether it be a natural reason or moral reason there is still a reason. I will not impede on an individuals choice, I will have tell them to consider the evidence, all the evidence. Most homosexuals I know base there choice on a gut feeling. Whose to say that the feeling wasn't a conditioned the likes of anti semitism or racism. There are scores of evidence to also consider with the taboo. People are naturally drawn to the taboo in order to identify there sense of self. (C.G. Jung) Would you eat snails... Maybe? Maybe Not... but is your choice based on scientific evidence that it's not healthy to eat snails or a gut feeling that snails are gross. At any rate. I will not take a stance on Science VS. Morality and religion or argue it here. I'm simply saying don't be naive in your assumptions. With criticism all sides need to be considered based on facts, not feelings, and until the facts are available outside sources are needed to debate the issue... Facts that may or may not pertain to the issue at hand. That's why it's a debate.

I Applaud you Jennifer Don't let anyone sway your conviction.

96. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 03:43 pm

My questions are simple: Augusta State University is Georgia, the heart of the Bible Belt. Do you think she's the first committed Christian to attend that program? Seems exceedingly unlikely doesn't it? Do you think she's the only one in the program right now? That seems unlikely, too, doesn't it? Yet she is the only one on the lawsuit. No one has joined her.

If the program has a special interest in actually changing how she thinks about Christianity in general, why single her out? Because they have noticed in her a pattern of behavior, not just thought, that would be unacceptable in the profession, and that is why they have given her the option of fixing her behaviors (which are motivated by a deep belief that she is morally obligated to help everyone live according to the Bible, especially those who seek her help) or to leave the program.

As others have noted, she wants to be a counselor in public schools, which means she would have a captive audience and they would have little choice on who they would see. If ever political correctness is the appropriate standard of behavior, that is it. When she is working as a counselor at a public or private non-denominational school, she does not have the right to express her disagreement with the DSM-IV and acceptable professional protocols.

Again, I can guarantee she is not the first nor the only Christian to go through that program, so before you start assuming she's as open as you are, think about what had to have happened for a program to go through all of this. Even her account of events reveals a lot of unacceptable behavior. One can only imagine what she must have looked like from the perspective of those on that long, long list of defendants.

97. dank48 - July 23, 2010 at 03:47 pm

So Ms. Keeton believes homosexuals choose to be homosexual, that it's really "just" a matter of choice. Yet in the interview she says she "can't" give up her beliefs, including apparently her belief that homosexuality is evil.

So her belief is an immoveable object, but other people's sexual orientation is a mere whim.

It would be interesting to know how she would describe her own sexual orientation and other people's beliefs. I'm sure she doesn't regard her own (I assume) heterosexuality as a "choice," and I'd bet she thinks of others' convictions and beliefs as so much froth.

It would be interesting to know what Ms. Keeton thinks the Founder of her faith had to say on the subject. My guess, she's taken someone else's word that Jesus condemned homosexuality, which--unless the gospels are totally unreliable--just ain't the case.

98. duchess_of_malfi - July 23, 2010 at 03:57 pm

Haven't we all had students who ramble on and on about their boyfriend, childhood, belief in the moon landing/DDT/immunization "hoax," what their other professor taught them about this course topic, etc.? Her wanting to make her courses and counseling training all about her does not become different because she wants to talk about her religious beliefs. No one is asking her to change her beliefs, only to learn to LEARN from other people as practice for the learning and listening from other people that will be her job. I'm not a therapist or counselor, but isn't that the job, helping the other person rather than taking every opportunity for self-expression?

There's a lot of focus here about her opinions about the origins and morality of homosexuality, but did anyone notice in the lawsuit that she believes in a "male-female gender binary" created at birth? If the fundamental goal of a university is to try to get students to leave the place not being as dumb as a sack of hammers, as #80 suggests, how can her professors in good conscience allow her to substitute opinions for facts? Is her suit some sort of radical destabilization of notions of empirical reality?

As a Christian, I object to her characterizing her views as "Christian viewpoints" (in the complaint), as if she can tell me how to be Christian.

99. blackbart - July 23, 2010 at 04:07 pm

@niolonra: To indeed be clear: The school's faculty haven't given her any failing grades that have been reported here. Indeed, Ms. Keeton's lawsuit claims that she has been evaluated favorably in her academic and her clinical work. This is not analogous to a student whining about a failing grade earned in a class--this is a student complaining about being threatened with expulsion DESPITE having demonstrated a willingness and ability to meet the curricular requirements set forth for the program. Apples and oranges.

I agree wholeheartedly that one doesn't "have to be gay to help a gay person, but [one does] need to work to understand the impact of stigma (perhaps by reading the responses of educated people here), how the gay person's choices impact their life, and how the community around them reacts to them." My own bewilderment is how quickly some posters here have concluded that Ms. Keeton wouldn't also agree with this very statement. Nowhere in this (admittedly limited) coverage is there evidence that she refuses to empathize with people who are gay; in fact, she seems to be suggesting that she wants the opportunity as a counselor to do so.

If she's done fine in her curricular work, then why is there a need for additional requirements just for her? Why does she need to be singled out for extra training in "understanding" a certain demographic? Why doesn't the school require this specific training for all its students in this program? The answer lies in the school's assumption is that a person cannot hold the view espoused by Ms. Keeton and simultaneously serve as a competent counselor to homosexual people. Thus, the school is looking for evidence that Ms. Keeton can/will change those views, and is suggesting activities for her so as to change those views. Don't call it brainwashing if you don't want to, but she's still being singled out to do extra work (that will do nothing to change her perspective on this matter, I'm almost certain!) because of her perspective on this moral issue.

If we should expect this of her, then we should expect all Christian students to attend synagogue in case they ever have to counsel a Jew (and vice versa), and we should expect all black students to attend a Klan meeting in case they ever have to counsel a white supremacist, and and and... if these requirements sound bizarre, then why doesn't the requirement being made of Ms. Keeton sound bizarre? The answer is political correctness.

100. rswopes - July 23, 2010 at 04:07 pm

I'm a bit confused by this article. The primary difference between undergraduate studies and graduate studies is exposure to materials which challenge tradition. Undergraduates are expected to master the prevailing paradigm, or the core body of knowledge generally excepted as common ground. Graduate students are expected the master challenges to this 'common ground'. Learning these divergent views does not obligate the student to accept any of them as the last word. For example, an undergraduate enrolled in a 300 level course on the History of Nazi Germany, learns exactly that; a contemporary appraisal of the history of Nazi Germany. A graduate is expected to master the historiography of Nazi Germany. Under no circumstances is the student expected to become a Nazi. Likewise, a student who may be a strong advocate of fundamental Christianity, and attends college with the hopes of becoming a theologian, must learn the roots, tenets, internal conflicts, and evolution of all major religions. Studying Islam does not require one to become a Muslim. Studying Buddhism does not mean one has to purchase a gong.

It may be wrong, or unfair for me to say this, but it's clear to me there is no sincerity here. This lawsuit is a stunt. If this young woman believes so strongly in her interpretation of Christianity, a plans to become a Christian counselor, why enroll in a state college? Why not simply transfer to a Christian college? Does she intend to become a counselor or a preacher? Why force the school and the state to spend their very limited resources fighting this case, when all she has to do is drop the class?

101. duchess_of_malfi - July 23, 2010 at 04:21 pm

Chronicle staff, the blurb to this story on the home page is misleading. It says:

Augusta State U. Is Accused of Requiring Student to Accept Homosexuality
By Peter Schmidt
The university's remediation plan, intended to get her to change her beliefs, is said to violate her First Amendment rights.

A student in a counseling program claims that the university intended to get her to change her beliefs. The blurb implies that her claim is established fact.

102. blackbart - July 23, 2010 at 04:22 pm

I Just read a chunk of Ms. Keeton's suit, and while this language is certainly designed to present her side of the case, it pretty well debunks the idea that the institution was not interested in cleansing her mind, as I put it upstream...

"[65. ] Dr. Anderson-Wiley stated that in the remediation process she would want to see Miss Keeton consider that impact and recognize her need to alter some of her beliefs accordingly.
66. Dr. Schenck explained to Miss Keeton that a superficial change in her behavior was not their objective, but rather a fundamental change in her outlook. She explained that Miss Keeton should not think that she can maintain her current beliefs and successfully complete the Remediation Plan.
67. Miss Keeton explained that while she was willing to learn and expand her awareness of relevant professional considerations, she had entered the program with the understanding that she would be able to maintain her beliefs. Dr. Anderson-Wiley wondered where she would have gotten that idea."

103. duchess_of_malfi - July 23, 2010 at 04:29 pm

Blackbart, I read the suit, too, but we have to remember that this is a complaint. It alleges. None of her claims have been established as factual. The emails are probably less contestable because the complaint says they are attached as exhibits, but her recollection of the meetings she had with the defendants could very well be different from, perhaps quite different from, their recollection. While the facts are still not yet known, I think it is better to phrase the story in terms of what is known rather than what might be at some future time.

104. daisy96 - July 23, 2010 at 04:32 pm

rswopes - You've stated exactly what I've been gnashing my teeth about regarding responses to several articles in the Chronicle that talk of the relationship between people of faith and science. One does not need to believe in Evolution to pass a test about Evolution. Some of the posts from the Evolutionists make fundamentalist religious zealots look harmless.

As for your second paragraph: Money. State school is generally (much) cheaper. Maybe she chose the school that she could afford.

105. blackbart - July 23, 2010 at 04:36 pm

@duchess: I agree that the narrative of a lawsuit must certainly be read with a grain of salt--but I can imagine faculty members bullying a student as described in paragraphs 65-67, then backing off when "clarifying" their meanings in written form like email. It's contestable, but the account is quite detailed and certainly plausible.

And as regards "phras[ing] the story in terms of what is known," the same can and should be said of the assumption that this student can't be a capable counselor of homosexual people and hold her beliefs about Christianity at the same time.

106. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 04:41 pm

Read more closely, blackbart. What they're talking about is they don't want her to simply tell them what they want to hear so that she can graduate and get a degree. The outlook that need "fundamental change" is her view that she is obligated to "save" others by exposing them to what she believes and presenting her belief as the word of God that applies to all.

107. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 04:47 pm

Again, this is not about Christianity. If only it were about an atheist who routinely belittles Christians, the point would be much easier for those who are

108. slpprof - July 23, 2010 at 04:48 pm

I want to reinforce earlier posters who pointed out that a professional training program with a national accrediting body has specific standards it must uphold, and free speech does not enter into it. If a student with a strong religious belief used part of every clinical session to proselytize, he or she would be remediated, and failing remediation, dismissed, appropriately. A professional must adhere to professional standards, and usurping a session to insert specific religious beliefs is unprofessional. Similarly, children in the public schools come from every religion and non-religious stance, and a public school counselor cannot tell a child his or her religious beliefs are wrong. That violates the child's rights. Ms. Keeton has stated explicitly that according to her religious beliefs, she must tell children in the public schools who have a need for counseling relative to concerns about homosexuality that it is a sin contrary to God's law. For those defending Ms. Keeton, what about the guarantee of freedom of religion of children attending public schools? That would be violated by what she herself has stated that she feels she must do. For those calling for her to get a chance to show that her beliefs do not affect her actions, she has already said that her beliefs dictate what her actions must be.

Personal religious beliefs are absolutely protected in private life, but first amendment rights do not extend to professional contexts. As many rightly point out, specifically Christian counseling programs exist. It is perfectly legal in this country to think the Christian Bible is a mix of often mutually inconsistent myths and writings, written by many people at many different times, with no clarity on what the original languages used to write it may have actually meant. It is also legal to be an atheist or a Muslim or any other non-Christian religion. And it is also perfectly legal for a Christian counseling program to exist that categorically rejects atheist or competing religous beliefs. And that program may legally dismiss an atheist who does not accept the counseling practices being taught in that program and publicly proclaims that he or she will not adhere to them once a degree is granted. The constitution protects the Christian institution's right to terminate this non-compliant student and refuse a degree.

The credentialing standards of a professional program must be met, and if personal beliefs cause a student to fail to meet those standards, then a dismissal is appropriate. The Bible college atheist who refuses to practice Christian counseling and the public college fundamentalist Christian who refuses to adhere to DSM-IV standard definitions of disorders are exactly equal, and neither should get a degree until they demonstrate they can master the standards required for practice.

109. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 04:53 pm

I hit "submit" by accident. Again, the point is there is something else going on here that is about this individual in particular and not at all about Christians in general. And it is about the political agenda of the Alliance Defense Fund, which is dedicated to promoting a very limited worldview.

110. blackbart - July 23, 2010 at 04:56 pm

@walrus: I'm not sure what I've said that you're intending to contradict. According to her own complaint (which, as I've said twice now, should be taken with a grain of salt), the specific beliefs she was being asked to change aren't enumerated near the paragraphs I quote. The belief you're describing, "her view that she is obligated to 'save' others by exposing them to what she believes and presenting her belief as the word of God that applies to all," is nowhere to be found near the language I quoted, nor does she claim anywhere I can see that she'd inappropriately espouse those views in a counseling setting.

Ms. Keeton was being told quite starkly that she would have to choose between dropping (some subset of) her biblical beliefs and completing the program. Why does it matter which of those beliefs was under attack, if none of them would make her an unqualified counselor?

111. blackbart - July 23, 2010 at 05:00 pm

@slpprof said: "Ms. Keeton has stated explicitly that according to her religious beliefs, she must tell children in the public schools who have a need for counseling relative to concerns about homosexuality that it is a sin contrary to God's law."

Can you provide a citation showing that Ms. Keeton said this? If so, I would certainly become much less sympathetic toward her, but such a declaration doesn't appear in the article above or (that I can see) in her own suit.

112. marka - July 23, 2010 at 05:00 pm

Impressed by the article & commentary. Just 2 cents, to correct what I think are false premises:

"In the same way, our general society has decided that homosexuality is NOT a sin, disease, or otherwise horrific condition, but a legitimate sexual orientation." Uh ... it may be moving in that direction, but it ain't there yet. Some states have included homosexuality in anti-discrimination statutes, but some haven't. And the US certainly hasn't. Still have don't ask/don't tell, until further notice. Haven't you heard about the ongoing spilt in the Episcopelian/Anglican church? Etc.

A State school can somehow impose 'professional' standards regardless of the 1st Amendment. Although a number of others have commented on the difference between expressing one's beliefs in a classroom, and actual behavior in a clinical setting, there is also a difference between a State school imposing such requirements, and a private school doing so.

As the previous post notes, if the allegations of the complaint are true (and I take them as such here, for purposes of the discussion), the State is not only asking her to expose herself to a certain population, but is asking her to change her beliefs. Regardless of the circumstances with a private accreditation, this is a no-no for the State.

113. duchess_of_malfi - July 23, 2010 at 05:17 pm

It's hard to know how the school intended to measure the success of the remediation. She chose not to go through with it--but she appears to have been advised by her professor to drop out of the program. She had not begun the practicum phase of the program, so no one has had an opportunity to assess her skills in working with clients. I don't know how her beliefs would affect her score on a state licensing exam or similar test, if that is required.

She argues that the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors does not apply to her because she is not a member of the organization. Does entering the program imply a commitment to the professional standards used in it? She seems to have been unaware of how her need to communicate disapproval to clients was going to clash with the professional norm of not doing that.

114. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 05:27 pm

Look at sections 71 and 72, then look at the letter where she refuses remdiation because she believes the Bible's teachings are true for all people. And then look at her adviser's response saying that what's unethical is her believing that her beliefs are the truth, which means that other ways of being in the world are false.

And, again, consider what must have happened for things to come to this, and consider the group funding the lawsuit, the Alliance Defense Fund. That group is explicitly concerned with advancing their version of a Christian agenda.

115. history_student1 - July 23, 2010 at 05:40 pm

"Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man." (Luke 6:22)

"The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?" (1 Corinthians 6:7)

I sympathize with Ms. Keeton's views, but I believe she is wrong to use legal coercion to obtain her rights. She should withdraw from the program in order to "rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is [her] reward in heaven. For that is how your fathers treated the prophets." (Luke 6:23)

116. blackbart - July 23, 2010 at 05:45 pm

"[W]hat's unethical is her believing that her beliefs are the truth, which means that other ways of being in the world are false."

Are you arguing that it's the duty of counselor training programs to purge this position of its students? It's ok for them to demand that students agree with them about moral relativism--a matter over which philosophers and religious scholars have debated for millennia with no resolution?

(See my caveat in #111. If she does intend to use her counselor's office as a bully pulpit, then that's another story. But being singled out simply for her belief system, if it doesn't make her an incompetent counselor, is the issue I'm worked up about.)

I don't find the mentions of the ADF relevant to our particular discussion. Either the case has merits, or it doesn't. I don't see how the funding for the lawsuit impacts the facts of the case.

117. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 06:33 pm

@blackbart: I don't know what to say. If you don't see my point yet I suppose you either won't or you can't. But I'm game to try it again.

If there were no red flags that she intends to use her counseling office as a bully pulpit, then we would not be having this discussion. But there were red flags, and it was the professional obligation of her advisers and other faculty to intervene. That is what they did. They clearly had faculty meetings about it, which means there were probably a wide range of opinions about what to do, and together they decided something unusual had to be done. Now either you're right and this group of people has decided to conspire against poor Ms. Keeton just for being a Christian (even though some of them are probably Christian themselves and there have surely been and still are other Christian students), or you're underestimating what has to have happened to get to this point.

If you don't see how it is relevant that her case is being funded by a group explicitly and openly dedicated to imposing their particular (Christian) views on American political and social institutions, then I don't know what IS relevant. They certainly didn't agree to take her case because she disagrees with them!

118. stevenkass - July 23, 2010 at 08:51 pm

I have a guess at what's up, which - it being only a guess - I'll express as a hypothetical situation that might parallel this one (including in particular, what walrus observed - that there must be something particular going on in this case beyond religious beliefs):

Suppose John Q. Beeton is in the program, and while earning passable grades (despite some issues with grammar), he makes it clear to faculty and students alike that he chose this program so he can fulfill his mission to God and Christ - to save souls.

No better way to do that than to become a K-12 counselor, John believes. In schools, in contact with young people on the brink, he will be a lone voice explaining how Christ loves them and will be their salvation, if they accept him into their life.

In this hypothetical situation, Beeton should not be allowed to stay in the program. I'm not saying this is what's going on with Keeton, but I wonder.

119. blackbart - July 23, 2010 at 09:13 pm

@walrus: I think where we're talking past each other is the perceived presence of red flags," as you put it. You're assuming that, in either her disposition as described in this article or as observed in additional encounters with her instructors, that such red flags exist. What I'm saying is that I don't see any indications in the publicly available sources she intends AS A COUNSELOR to proselytize to clients. Her lawsuit doesn't seem to suggest such red flags either (though that account is admittedly one-sided.) What I do perceive is a student trying desperately to reconcile her personal (though widely-held) belief system with her professional goals, and a faculty bent on breaking down and re-building that belief system rather than helping such students toward that reconciliation. Wouldn't it be an improvement if the relevant instruction to counselors-in-training was "if you run into a situation where you can't render appropriate help, seek out someone who can--here's how you recognize those situations and what your ethical obligations are in those circumstances" instead of "you must believe whatever world view each of your clients brings in the door, regardless of your own religion or belief system?"

The funding of the lawsuit doesn't impact the merits of the suit. Are there all sorts of political machinations shoehorning into this increasingly high-profile case? You betcha. But the source of the funding doesn't impact the MERITS of the case--which is what I thought we were discussing. Whether you find the ADF's involvement in this case despicable or laudable, I don't care, and neither will the judge. If there's a way that the funding of the suit changes its legal or ethical disposition, say so; otherwise, why keep bringing it up? (Does ADF's involvement make somebody more ethically or legally right in this situation?)

120. rodbell - July 23, 2010 at 09:22 pm

I have no doubt that many of Ms. Grad Student's supporters/enablers are contributing their efforts because they see an opportunity to embarrass their political/ideological opponents, but as for this grad student, I think some of us being unduly hard on her. As I read the article--there may be a lot more to it that's not reported here--she did not "start" this contretemps, except by speaking her mind in class and papers and after-class arguments. She argued that homosexuality is a choice and, to her, morally wrong. The faculty ordered her to participate in a remediation program; that's different from the regular requirements. It's the remediation work, based on her opinions, that she objects to, and I don't blame her.

It appears to me that her faculty belong to that very, very large category of unsuspecting faculty who identify so uncritically with their role that they can't tell the difference between knowledge and norms. Notice how many of the comments to that article assumed that this grad student was a benighted religious nut who might as well believe--if she didn't actually believe--that the earth was created a few thousand years ago by God, etc. etc. This is because these same commenters "know" the "scientific" truth about homosexuality, just as surely as they "know" the best evidence from scientific cosmology.

Which is to say, they don't know s***. None of us does, if by "know" one means that one is a peer among experts on the subjects. Rather, we rely (not at all unreasonably) upon authority, and, hopefully, educated people have better guides to knowledge authority than the not-so-well educated. But it's a tricky, shifting terrain we walk, fit to make a Socrates out of each of us, though it seldom does. Most of us are pretty cock-sure of our intellectual superiority over the seemingly bottomless pit of fools, ignoramuses, nut-cases, et al.

But I'm, well, "mature" enough to remember when homosexuality was explained mainly in Freudian terms (remember his terrific essay on paranoia?), and I'm intimately and vigorously familiar with the era during which the *entire professions* of psychology/psychology turned tail and ran before the onrushing juggernaut of the New Left, critical theory, you-name-it (as long as it was "no" to what used to be "yes"), deciding during a period of a very few years that what had been "abnormal" was, in fact, "normal." So I'm not going to link arms with that phalanx of "Christian"-haters (scare quotes because, obviously, a lot of Christians are not negatively judgmental about homosexuality), any more than I would with Ms. Grad Student and her judgmental attitudes about homosexuality.

I'm surprised that her faculty was apparently incapable of demanding that Ms. Grad Student keep her religious beliefs out of a scientific/engineering context. The science part is, how do these things work, as far as we know, and do we understand them well enough to guide behavior? The engineering part is, how do we make things happen (based on science)? The policy issues--what *should* we make happen?--would be, I suppose, a matter of teaching and practicing to subordinate personal viewpoints to legal (legitimate) policies?

121. jaros - July 23, 2010 at 09:53 pm

As has been said if not inferred, Ms Grad Student's views on homosexuality are to be noted, but are moot in serving gay students as a counselor in a school, agency, wherever. She does need to respond to all her clients as people she can assist. Augusta State, if they have not already, need to be clear that her anti-gay sentiment or moral belief on behalf of the litigious Ms Grad Student is not the issue, but that regional and professional accreditors and organizations expect, nay require, that competence as a counselor requires one to work with diverse individuals from varying racial/ethnic groups, genders, religious persuasions, SES groups, and yes, sexual identity/orientations, to name a few. It appears that Ms Grad Student has confused her discomfort with working with gay individuals as a bonafide ethically provided exclusion, i.e. not sufficiently trained to work with a specific group or that to do so violates a core value. To refuse training and then claim insufficient training would be unacceptable, but claim to not be able to work with a whole population b/c of a core value is also untenable. That said, Augusta State should not, and hopefully did not as claimed here, get "caught up' with having students change core values. It is about changing student behavior not changing a profession to suit a student. I wish Augusta State the best.

122. spouseofanacademic - July 23, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Others have said, and it bears repeating, that many here would change their tune if the plaintiff's opinion was that white people were inherently superior to all other races, and she used the classroom and her work as an opportunity to frequently espouse that position, and she was working towards licensure in SCHOOL COUNSELING*.

Freedom of speech means that you won't be arrested for what you think, say, or write. It does not mean that what you say has no consequences, or that anyone else is required to donate a vehicle for which you to say them.

Not relevant to the trial, but if she "thinks" gender is an always absolutely determinant binary from birth, she's an idiot. Hermaphrodites, people with different genotypical and phenotypical sex, people with odd assortments of chromosomes like XXY, etc. EXIST.

*I would be less concerned about issues that came up during therapy because school counselors don't do much of that. What is worrying is what would happen if she was counselor for grades 11 or 12 and thus responsible for sending out things like school documentation of grades and activities to colleges and scholarship programs. I had a couple of non-white friend in HS who lost out on terrific opportunities (like an academic scholarship at Baylor, summer institute at the University of Chicago, stuff like that) because our counselor "forgot" to send off the paperwork she was supposed to on time. I don't know if she was just sheerly incompetent or racist, but she later was promoted to principal.

123. walrus - July 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm

@blackbart: Jumping off of what jaros and spouseofanacademic just wrote, I don't get this. Are you saying that Ms. Keeton should be certified and allowed to have a job even if she cannot or will not serve all people equally? Is it because she's a Christian that you're willing to give her a pass on this? Or perhaps it's because homosexuality is still an acceptable target?

To press spouseofanacademic's point a little further: Let's imagine that when the issue of race comes up Ms. Keeton freely admits that she believes "The Bell Curve" was right to conclude that black people are innately inferior to white and Asian people. "It's just my belief that black people really are inferior to whites and should serve them," she argues. "Moreover," she continues, "blacks have the mark of Ham and the Bible justifies slavery, and for me the Bible is Truth. I know that's not how society is organized, so I'll try my best to not let these beliefs interfere when I counsel the dimwi... I mean black people."

Or let's imagine that she buys into Lawrence Summer's argument that women are inherently inferior to men in engineering and math, and she further believes that they shouldn't pursue those fields anyway because the Bible says women should just get married and have children. Again, not only is this her belief, but she believes it as metaphysical Truth. She says, "Those views won't interfere when I counsel young women who are seeking their proper roles in the kitch... I mean society."

Clearly, you're disposed to give Ms. Keeton the benefit of the doubt, while I see this as part of a larger reactionary effort to reassert Christian control over secular institutions and society at large. James Dobson and his ilk feel like society has gotten out of hand and they think they know what's best for all of us.

You see her as just one individual trying desperately to stay in a program, but I see this as someone emboldened by the conservative movement that is targeting what they percieve as "bastions of liberalism," especially institutions of higher education, and trying to remake them into their own image. Where you buy into the image of a naive waif who just wants to help children, I suspect a woman who probably knew exactly what she was going to do when she enrolled because it's part of a larger pattern. (See the ADF's cases against Missouri State and Eastern Michigan, for example.)

And in case any of you want to accuse me of being paraniod, just look up groups like the ADF. They explicitly admit that they're out to "take the country back."

124. spouseofanacademic - July 23, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Chiming in again to agree with Walrus and to point out something for those who haven't been in high school recently (it's been 10 years for me) or didn't go to school in the South.

The lion's share of a high school counselor's responsibilities relate to the academic success of students; they are more like academic advisors in college than therapists, but unlike academic advisors, they have a strong measure of authority over their charges. They have input (and sometimes absolute control) in decisions on what classes a student takes (including whether they can take advanced classes or not), what teachers a student has, and whether to recommend a student for a scholarship or other opportunity.

I would hope that people in this forum above all others would recognize that the potential academic discrimination of grammar and secondy school students is of paramount importance, and thus ABSOLUTELY a valid domain of concern for faculty in a program like this one.

125. doctorb1 - July 24, 2010 at 09:16 am

I'm really shocked at the degree to which non-inclusive thinking pervades this discussion. Of course she should be grilled mercilessly to change her thinking to accomodate the entire range of the GLBTQ lifestyle. This is simply in keeping with the way we demand that other protected classes are handled in counseling programs. Certainly, every counselor must be made to experience the way the elderly must live. Don't we send every counselor out to spend time on a cane, a wheelchair, etc.? Aren't they placed in lonely settings or made to face indifferent bureaucracies so they can be empathic to their elderly clients?

Isn't every counselor required to attend ethnic and cultural events of groups to which they don't belong. How else could they learn to deal with the next client that walks in their door?

Certainly, they must be learning the theology, philosophy, or ethos of other value groups since we should not discriminate based on those factors!

At a very minimum, if we aren't not doing this for groups distinguished by their Race, Color, Religion, National origin, Age, and Sex then our counseling programs are an abysmal failure. Perhaps we should also add other federal protected classes that aren't articulated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. What about experiencing the range of disabilities (ADA, 1990)? What about Veterans' experiences (Federal Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974)?

Or perhaps, those who take a moment to follow this line of thinking through know that even the best counselor will never span the entire range of human existence/nature, nor will he/she share the same value every client places on different components of their life experience and nature. Therefore, what we must expect of them is to treat the patient with respect and professionalism. This does not require the counselor to be wholly sympatico with each client.

126. janyregina - July 24, 2010 at 10:31 am

Wow!!I may assign this to my students. Has it been proved that she believes that gender can be changed? Because we all know it can't. Keep it up everyone. I love to watch people think. Isn't it wonderful? But then again, I am in the bible belt and I am an adjunct. So, maybe I won't use this as an assignment.

But seriously, I don't want her counseling my nephew who as a teenager had suicidal ideation because of his sexual orientation.

Anyone remember when homosexuality was declasified a "sin" by the Diagnosic and Statistical Manual IV TR? OOps IT was the DSM III then or maybe even earlier. This is the Bible of psychiatry. I am thinking it was around 1968. Before that, homosexuality was classifed as a disorder.

127. blackbart - July 24, 2010 at 10:32 am

@walrus: I'll do my best to reply to your question and commentary about my position, which I'm still apparently not articulating in a satisfactory way...

"Are you saying that Ms. Keeton should be certified and allowed to have a job even if she cannot or will not serve all people equally?"

...I'm saying that, if we think about this for a moment, that NO certified counselor can "serve all people equally." Can a gay counselor serve a homophobe as well as a straight counselor? Can a single counselor serve a married couple as well as a married counselor? Can an Islamic counselor serve a Jew as well as a Jewish counselor? Exceptions certainly abound, but I think the answer in some cases must be "of course not." Why, then, are we making such a fuss about the ability of a conservative Christian counselor to serve a gay person?

As was suggested above, every counselor-in-training should be exposed to and encourage to empathize with a wide-ranging cross section of religious, ethnic, and social perspectives, for reasons that are obvious. It sounds as though Ms. Keeton received this exposure in the curriculum and responded to it appropriately (she earned an A in the related class, if I recall this detail correctly from her suit). Why must she think homosexuality is ok before she can council gay people? As I--and others above--have suggested, shouldn't every counselor also receive training so they can recognize when they aren't a good "match" for the client and therefore seek third-party help or make a referral?

"Or let's imagine that she buys into Lawrence Summer's argument that women are inherently inferior to men in engineering and math..."

...well, she doesn't, as far as we know, but if she did, I think my argument above still holds water. Of course, there comes a point when the population she can serve at her peak level of excellence becomes so small that counseling is no longer an appropriate profession for such a person. But this program apparently though she was capable of broad enough empathy and compassion to admit her and to award her an A in the related course.

"You see her as just one individual trying desperately to stay in a program, but I see this as someone emboldened by the conservative movement that is targeting what they percieve as 'bastions of liberalism,' especially institutions of higher education, and trying to remake them into their own image."

...I don't think the two perspectives you outline above (the one you give to me and your own) are mutually exclusive or contradictory. (Moreover, it would seem the institution in this case is doing precisely what you accuse her of: remaking her into their own image.)

"And in case any of you want to accuse me of being paraniod, just look up groups like the ADF. They explicitly admit that they're out to 'take the country back.'"

...I make no such accusation of you, and--while I seem unable to convince you of this--I don't care about the ADF. Either this student deserves to continue in her program and earn her certification while maintaining her religious beliefs, or she doesn't. I don't care what ADF's opinion of this matter is.

128. mbelvadi - July 24, 2010 at 10:58 am

A couple of questions for you all:
1. Does the fact that this is a professional program rather than a liberal arts degree play any role in the discussion about "rights" she may have to express her opinions? Relatedly, when almost an entire profession's practice is literally "talking" (e.g. counseling), what does that mean about the interplay between the concept of "free speech" and professional "behavior" requirements?
2. Does the institution have a right, or even obligation (to its past and future students) to restrict those who go into the workforce bearing its mark of approval (aka diploma) to those who espouse a particular set of beliefs relating to the professional practices to which the institution is certifying competence? Does it have the right to protect its own reputation against a would-be alum who would in its eyes damage it?

Also, to those who keep talking in terms of her refusing to work with homosexual clients, I get the impression is that the concern isn't that they'll refuse to talk to them, but just the opposite - that she'll actively hurt them (in the eyes of the professional standards) by giving them destructive opinions. Consider the debates about pharmacists unwilling to dispense abortifactant medications and imagine if they claimed the professional right not just to refuse the patient, but to substitute a different medication in place of the prescribed one, a medication that would have the outcome the pharmacist desired (eg a placebo).

129. fran6490 - July 24, 2010 at 11:25 am

I don't read this as trying to get her to accept homosexuality as much as trying to educate her as to what it is. On a personal level we each have our own stances and ethos. On a professional level we should work to assure that our individual bias is not reflected in our work. That is professionalism. I'm not sure that either party is behaving equitably in this case. Of course, we are the most litigious society in the world.

130. blackbart - July 24, 2010 at 01:30 pm

@mbelvadi: I don't believe the right of free speech is the relevant issue here--it's the right of free thought. Ms. Keeton is being told (or at least she believes she's being told) that she can't THINK what she thinks and earn the degree she's seeking.

The concern that she'll "actively hurt" any gay clients is an appropriate one if there were evidence that she intends to espouse these views in an inappropriate way in a clinical setting. But there's no evidence in the Chronicle's article or her suit that she has any such intentions. She was in class settings where she was expected to express her opinions on this issue, and she did so. She was in conversations with colleagues and instructors outside the classroom where this issue (or her opinion of it) came up, and she discussed it. It's something of a leap to assume that she'd express these same views in a way that would damage a client in a clinical setting. (If she has said that she DOES have such intentions to "show gays the way out of their lives of sin," then that's a different matter--but I don't see that she's said that.)

@fran6490 says: "On a personal level we each have our own stances and ethos. On a professional level we should work to assure that our individual bias is not reflected in our work. That is professionalism." I agree, and I don't see any evidence to suggest that Ms. Keeton wouldn't agree with this, either. That's the crux of the issue: the faculty of her program are punishing her for her "stances and ethos," not for its "reflection in her [potential clinical] work."

131. qj201 - July 24, 2010 at 02:10 pm

you should have your APA membership revoked if you even are a member (because you left that out of your "CV."

ASU is adhering to the stated policies of the American Psychological Association, e.g., therapy must be affirmative, conversion therapy is wrong.

If Ms. Christian did graduate and get her counseling license, what would happen if she went to work at a public hospital or publicly funded clinic? "oh sorry I don't do gay clients, because I disagree with their 'lifestyle'."

Ms. Christian should have gone to a christian school where she could have learned all about conversion therapy. Same goes for a christian geology student who believes the world is only 5,000 years old and and any student who refuses "to learn" the "standards" of their field because of their selectively chosen "religious beliefs."

What these people call Christianity looks nothing like what I was taught in bible school.

132. tbdiscovery - July 24, 2010 at 02:44 pm

Normally, students are coerced into groupthink at the undergraduate and graduate level. Many just remain respectful during anti-Bush, anti-corporation, and everyone-is-a-bigot rants. This student has courage in her conviction, and as such, ASU's faculty should be thankful that they don't have yet another mind to mold into some utopian worldview. They've succeeded: before them is a student with critical thinking skills who calls BS on their propaganda. Sure, her regligious views are just as much progaganda, but she is free to hold those views just as much as faculty can sport their rainbow bumper stickers and Che avatars.

As I disagree with the student's views on homosexuality, it makes me want to cheer her on even more. The impact of her counseling will be readily apparent as she proceeds through life, and if she is deemed incompetent, then that will be to her - and her clients' - detriment. Until then, she remains an individual from a group that generally does not hold high positions in HE. Diversity, forwarch march!

133. jaros - July 24, 2010 at 03:24 pm

"The only extorted cost of the smells rising off a restaurant's cooking grill is the sound of the jungling of coins in the pockets of its passer-bys" is a thought that came to my mind that best captures the embroilment.

Ms Graduate Student is suing Augusta State for something based on standard counseling and applied knowledge base(s) and practical experience. Augusta State is being "shaken down" by a student for not honoring her unacceptable request, much like trying to charge passers by for the smells of a public grill.

Now, I am pleased that many responses here question Ms Graduate Student's helpfulness to the plethora of those of us who are unlike her, see vast majority perhaps, but until one realizes that Augusta State must have proof that she could be harmful, they could not *not* exclude her for exclusive and errant beliefs alone. So, they chose to offer her remediation, which she refused, knowing the consequences of said actions. From the article, Augusta State did not exclude her from their training and supervision until she opted for it.

Now, she seeks reimbursement for some presumed damages(?). I hope she and Augusta State get a very wise judge who will not side with the poor student in this most interesting case. Again, I wish Augusta State well.

134. jaros - July 24, 2010 at 03:28 pm

Erraturm: On line #4 of paragraph, please delete this *not* and add asterisks to the last word (not) on the end of lone #3, paragraph 3. JA

135. agpbloom - July 24, 2010 at 05:15 pm

doctorb1 writes:

"I'm really shocked at the degree to which non-inclusive thinking pervades this discussion."

Answer: Welcome to free speech in America. The fact you are "shocked" is rather shocking.

Perhaps, you would not be as "shocked" if you had more dialogues that involved REAL diversity--not the pretend variety parading around so many campuses today.

No doubt, many of the posters that you complain about have not been brainwashed with the sort of sophomoric "inclusion" that insists all Americans must have a sort of missionary zeal for the LGBTQ agendas and policies.

Yes...I'll bet you are shocked. Welcome to the majority view in America today, APA or no APA.

136. koine2002 - July 24, 2010 at 06:58 pm

I'm once again calling out the science academy on this one. You've decided that conclusions outweigh method. Shame on you! Graduate research is primarily about method and conclusions are a secondary matter.

Once again, it seems that the academy has decided that method of research is secondary to conclusions. I'm pleased to be working in the humanities where we still value method. As my doctoral thesis supervisor said, "You are free to disagree with me at anytime, as long as you provide sufficient verification."

Doctoral studies are about learning about becoming a researcher, gathering data, analyzing that data (utilizing several different models) and reporting on those results. I could care less what a student's thesis is, I'm concerned about how they get there. You people in the sciences need to grow up and learn to respect method as preeminent over final conclusion!

137. vlghess - July 24, 2010 at 07:58 pm

#115--in the interest of precision, Paul's counsel about lawsuits was directed to Christians' suing other Christians (with perhaps the implication of monetary interests/greed) before non-Christian judges. (Corinth was known as a litigious society--can we relate?)
Paul himself asserted his rights as a Roman citizen when, having been illegally beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, the authorities tried to get him to leave quietly and avoid fuss...Again, how modern is that?
Don't know enough to comment on the merits of the lawsuit. I do know that education certification, these days, includes a fair bit of emphasis on "dispositions," which faculty struggle to evaluate and assess, and which are required pieces in program accreditation. Life sure isn't simple!

138. 22174061 - July 25, 2010 at 08:36 am

koine2002, the fact that thesis or outcome don't matter in your field does much to explain the long slide of the humanities into oblivion. Effective counseling, in contrast, is defined by the specific outcome that results from a counselor's work (e.g., "I did everything right, but my patient committed suicide anyway" is not a happy result). A high school student struggling with his or her sexual orientation is more likely to reach a satisfactory resolution if the school counselor is free of bias concerning the student's personal culpability in "choosing" to struggle with feelings of attraction to same-sex peers.

139. drmink - July 25, 2010 at 09:52 am

Isn't she sort of like a kindergarten teacher who doesn't like kids? She isn't likely to last long in that profession anyway since being religion-neutral is required of public school employees. The first time she is caught proselyting at school is the day she'll be fired with cause. Then what is going to do: sue them?

140. mastodon - July 25, 2010 at 01:45 pm

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141. stinkcat - July 25, 2010 at 02:46 pm


If this woman thinks that homosexual sex is immoral, who are you to tell her she is wrong? Are you the arbiter of morality for the universe. You may very well disagree, but then all we have a dispute as to what is right without a good mechanism to tell who is write or wrong. Now, should her views on the morality of homosexual sex disqualify her from being a counselor? No, since there is no established morality here, just people with different opinions.

142. mastodon - July 25, 2010 at 04:45 pm

But stinkcat, she IS establishing a morality and wants everyone to give a rat's ass about it and relax standards in her ignorant case. If she wants to continue to play this moral game, then she should damn well play it and live out its consequences and *like it* when they rebound back on her. If she is here to say that homosexuality is "wrong" but yet cares to presumptuously think she can counsel folks who in some instances may need feedback on issues of human identity and sexual development, then, yes, I'm here to tell her that she is "wrong" and, for the sake of playing her game, that her sexual being is a freak of nature subject to discussion by all and sundry. Is she a virgin? Does she think oral sex is a sin? Has she committed it? How many times? Does she practice contraception? Etc. Cuts both ways, is my point. She wants to make a "thing" out of homosexuality? Then let's make a thing out of her sexuality. She should just shut up and not be so self-righteous as to think that others care to hear her reactionary views on human sexuality. The arrogance of Christians like her is astounding. She should also understand how grossly unqualified she is, lacking empathy by her own "choice" to be closed minded. Her views are archaic and narcissistic in the extreme.

143. performance_expert2 - July 25, 2010 at 05:23 pm

Walrus states:

rsilverman: OK. So just imagine how much more harmful it is when a young person goes to an insitutionally-sanctioned adult for help with her feelings, only to have that adult tell her that her feelings are indeed wrong and that she needs to look for guidance from the Lord, go to conversion therapy, or at the very least spend the rest of her life not acting on those feelings?

If college or even graduate students are intimidated into "toeing the line" on academic issues, imagine how intimidated a kid would feel. Augusta State has every right, indeed it is obligated to do all it can to prevent a person who shows every intention of doing exactly that from getting certified. __________

Perhaps what is missing from the aggregrated schools of counseling for K-12 is a clearly stated policy on how to counsel students expressing homosexual anxiety.

That way the fundamentalist student (of whatever belief) has clear information of what is expected of them to do their professional work, and can maintain their personal ethos without mixing it up with coercion, thought-crime, and scapegoating, etc. of their personal system.

There needs to be clearly stated professional methods to best serve clients. At the same time, boundaries need to be observed regarding an individual's personal belief.

144. stinkcat - July 25, 2010 at 05:28 pm

"If she is here to say that homosexuality is "wrong" but yet cares to presumptuously think she can counsel folks who in some instances may need feedback on issues of human identity and sexual development, then, yes, I'm here to tell her that she is "wrong" and, for the sake of playing her game, that her sexual being is a freak of nature subject to discussion by all and sundry."

By whose standard is she wrong? After all, we are talking about a moral issue here. If you want to tell her she is wrong, why is your standard better than hers and why is it your job to impose it on her?

145. performance_expert2 - July 25, 2010 at 05:57 pm

I think there are many US humanities academic depts. that have the habit of telling people what to do, say, and think, particularly graduate students and available local academics who are not in a position do anything but smile and agree if they want to keep receiving work, like a pigeon in Central Park.

US Schools of Humanities Academic Freedom:
Undergrads? Yes.
Masters Grad Student? No.
Phd. Grad Student? No.
Assistant Professor? No.
Associate Professor? No.
Full Professor? Yes.

146. 22174061 - July 25, 2010 at 07:44 pm

performance_expert2 writes: "Perhaps what is missing from the aggregrated schools of counseling for K-12 is a clearly stated policy on how to counsel students expressing homosexual anxiety."

Why are you assuming such a policy is "missing"? The crux of this entire controversy is that ASU's licensed professional counselors (in keeping with the values and policies of the organization accrediting their program) know perfectly well that a rigid, bible-based view of homosexuality is an "immoral choice" is countertherapeutic in such cases. It is also inconsistent with the best scientific understanding of sexual orientation at this time. The purpose of graduate training is to help students acquire, understand, and apply new knowledge they don't already have. Ms. Keeton is rejecting such knowledge outright and insists on retaining her countertherapeutic attitudes. The ASU faculty seem to be bending over backwards to help her work through this problem and complete the program in good standing. I'm sure these individuals are not being paid extra for the extra teaching and supervision they are willing to provide to Ms. Keeton. What is their reward? A lawsuit (!), in which the student is suing them because they're taking the time and trouble to make sure she learns something new and relevant about how to help young people struggling with their sexuality. As others on this thread have pointed out, if Ms. Keeton succeeds in this suit then any student will be free to reject any and all academic knowledge and still receive his or her degree, making the receipt of degrees close to meaningless.

147. duchess_of_malfi - July 25, 2010 at 09:05 pm

Does anyone know if there has ever been a lawsuit involving these or similar professional counseling standards themselves, as they relate to religious belief?

148. performance_expert2 - July 25, 2010 at 10:59 pm

22174061, you're beig quite reactionary and toxic. I think you are completely missing the point. My point is professional pratice and personal belief are two separate things. Allow to me say that, imo, you are being very arrogant and American with you steamrollering. I suggest you go up a couple of flights of stairs with your reasoning and realize it is important to not dictate to people a PC mode of thinking, which has often become the rule now in the US- the pushy do-gooder.

It may interest you to know there some area in India where they really resent the western mode of categorizing everything and in regards to sex identity, men walk around holding hands if they like and some of the populace is of unknown sex orientation and that is just the way the like it and it has been for a couple thousand years, gentle, non-invasive and live and let live.

Now juxtapose that to Yee Gay Pride Parade and sensitivity training etc. where sex identity is now a political force. I have before said I really do not care who you are sleeping with and I really do not want to hear about it. Additionally, FYI, I am aware of issues of young people and any number of problems or abuses in the US regarding sex identity and adolescents and I certainly support an autonomous and supportive environment for same.

Whatever happened to live and let live? As someone else said here, some seem to be pre-judging this person prior to any supervised clinical work.

You are certainly caught up in a shrill reaction and generalization with "any student will be free to reject any and all academic knowledge" but come to think of it, that is probably where the best ideas come from is from persons who reject any and all ideas. Here, here. Thank you.

149. performance_expert2 - July 25, 2010 at 11:04 pm

PS 22174061, I grew up with mountains, loads, sheer quantities of cosmopolitan gay culture. Gay neighbors, gay teachers, gay bosses, girls with girly group names for artistic endeavors.



Do this cure diabetes or pull potatoes out of the ground so we can have dinner? No it does not. Get over it.

150. performance_expert2 - July 25, 2010 at 11:06 pm

WWJGD? What would Jean Genet do?

151. mastodon - July 25, 2010 at 11:49 pm

She is wrong by the standards of the secular society in which we live; other commenters have remarked on the (hopefully unlikely) event that she has to counsel a teenager dealing with issues of sexual identity. She is wrong in view of research on human (and animal) sexual identity, and in case one forgets, the Bible is not science or on a factual standing equal to science. She is wrong because she bases her opinion on what she calls "Biblical views" -- i.e., obsolete scriptural codes -- and I will bet you the farm that, like a hypocrite, she picks and chooses which codes she'll follow: i.e., she obviously hangs around men during menstruation instead of isolating herself for the required 7 days, etc. In some other state besides GA, her insane ideas put into practice would be illegal: GA doesn't have a clause banning discrimination against gays. Go figure: few states are redder than GA or more reactionary in their politics. Finally, she is wrong because she is stupid and "shares her biblical views and convictions ... in assignments" (see video below). Gah! Again, she should not be so self-righteous as to think that others care to hear her reactionary views on human sexuality. But here she is, OH SO PUT UPON:


She accuses the university of being "ideologically heavy handed" yet goes around, inside and outside the classroom, talking about her idiotic views on human sexuality. Who's ideological? Why does she think she should go around boring people with her archaic views about human sexuality? It's these kinds of arrogant Christians who are the most loathsome.

We don't live in any "anything goes" world. She's chosen her foundation, I've chosen mine, and the university has its own when it comes to credentializing its graduates. She wants to play this moral ground game, then she should submit fully to its rules when there's push back. If she wants to play the relativism game, then she should darn well shut her pie hole or enjoy the diversity of views. Ms Keeton, you can't have it both ways, because the blade cuts both ways, honey.

152. mastodon - July 25, 2010 at 11:56 pm

#148, right on.

153. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 12:00 am

"because the blade cuts both ways, honey."

Wow. That is really of the fantastic, using sexist language and language that suggests violence as if from an attacker. It is no wonder the time has come to deal with the political indulgence of making identity politics an agenda superceding good and clear policy.

A higher caste commenter here said this issue is pertaining to the ethics of clinical psychology. It is obvious that? good clear methodology has been watered down using identity politics in place of methodology.

If the sexist and abusive Mastodon would read the article, (also known as rtfa) the issue is the school taking exception with the student's "views" not the student's clinical methodology.

Mastodon has not been very far out of his bhoozie haunts to speak in such a manner. I've before heard the accusation of "white privilege." Is there such a thing as gay privilege?

154. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 12:06 am

Further, Mastodon is quick to pull of The Royal We, the "we" hammer: "the secular society in which we live."

Mastodon is likely so inebriated with monoculture as to not be able to dwell with this comment. Now Mastodon, are you going to call me honey and flash your knife around?

155. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 12:19 am

Mighty Mastodon, I went to the video you referenced. I fail to see what is so toxic. It seems the young lady is being put to punitive measures. Did you not hear her say she is not going to and is not willing to change her views? She is certainly taking this the full measure and not flinching. She is also clearly spoken.

The responsibility of the dept. is to tell her that her religious views, be it atheist, muslim, catholic, hindu, christian, etc. should not be expressed laisez-faire in her academic courses. A lot of rural peole think like this young lady and it is the mission of the university to teach them what is scholarship and what is personal. She seems to be mixing it up but this is not reason for punitive moral correction training, it is simply a matter of what is given attention in academic study. If you are studying physics, you can not stop everything and discussion big bang versus intelligent design. But the answer is not to take the physics student and have them attend morality atheist training.

156. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 12:29 am

Mastodon, your error is that this young lady is not out to cut you, as you reference. She simply has her personal religion and for some reason you refuse to respect that.

'Yo, Mastodon, don't move to Indonesia. It's 86% muslim and there's 300 million of them. The official motto of Indonesia is: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Old Javanese), translated: "Unity in Diversity."

M'Don, isn't that telling? How about you go to Indonesia for some of that official mandated diversity you so love?

157. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 12:48 am

PS Not meant to tell you to move on, M'Don. Just meant rhetorically, you should visit the land with the stated policy you mandate. Yes fundamentalism is fundamentalism and I see some eqivilency in militant LBGT politic and Sharia law. Both seem equally reasonable. But fetish academics in university is not limited to LGBT, it is a style of appropriation and enforcement that can pertain to any number of things. The professed intellectual freedom fighters are practicing the same colonizing tactics as militant corporatism where "we will drop bombs on you until you abandon your culture and get FoxNews, a Walmart and Mcdonald's." Or so it seems. Coercion and appropriation. The subtext is "I am angry about such & such, therefore I will take it out on you since you are available and make me to think of the same thing."

158. mastodon - July 26, 2010 at 01:07 am

<Comment removed by moderator>

159. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 09:09 am

Thank you for the affirmation, M'Don. Just a parting thought... I might even be able to type without errors... If I may return the generalized "we" and turn it to "you," "you" coffee-shop cushy Columbia Univiersity trained hater-types are out there pimping all of this social engineering and then people actually start applying it like the reich. Yes, I've seen both sides of it but when you get away from the cosmopolitan and in the rural, and start telling people what they can and can not do and this is the "push" and energy of graduate schooling, it is basically way-messed-up. For some reason I do not relate to, there is a collective who simply seem to like to tell people what to do. They have a shoebox of their ideas - well and good - but then go and mandate their ideas and pressure students to take their one approach. I've seen it and I've seen the grown adults who passively eat their hat and go along with it in order to finish a degree. For some students, this information may be vital information and a comfort zone and a new and good thing, but for other students it is stale and vacant. The point is, people have ther own interests, (students) need to be able do their own thing instead of being DIRECTED DIRECTED DIRECTED. I made a comment recently about distance learning. You pay tuition and somebody gives you a stack of chores to do and that is about it. It is more like "guided study teach yourself."

Look, M'Don, when I was a wee sprite, I had a militant humanities teacher, an english teacher, and on the first or second day of class, this person philosophically informs us that there is no such thing as right or wrong, it is a social construct. Being all young and fresh, like the young lady in the video, I raised my hand and told the instructor "That is not correct. There certainly is right and wrong." The instructor got reactionary with me. It was most unpleasant. After three days of class I stopped attending. So M'Don, I have seen these cheap control techniques applenty and I do not think it is teaching people, it is something else. I do not relate to it, maybe I have a little deeper notion than to think I can rote dictate "values" to people, but I can produce source material to open their eyes and teach them something. Have a beautiful day. p_e

160. panchodesastre - July 26, 2010 at 09:11 am

Are there course syllabi that are referred to in which the requirements for "remedial study" are stated? Is there anything in the program of study? If not, she has a case. Otherwise, she signed up for it and knew what she was getting into.

It could be argued that, in order to increase her empathy/ sensitivity to homosexuals undergoing "conversion therapy (sic)," she is being subjected to the inverse conversion experience. Write a 50-page reflection paper when done clearly stating how it will inform your practice.

161. stinkcat - July 26, 2010 at 09:16 am

"She is wrong by the standards of the secular society in which we live; other commenters have remarked on the (hopefully unlikely) event that she has to counsel a teenager dealing with issues of sexual identity. She is wrong in view of research on human (and animal) sexual identity, and in case one forgets, the Bible is not science or on a factual standing equal to science."

I think in the area of the morality of homosexual sex our society doesn't have a standard, just a bunch of opinions. Some people feel it is moral, some people feel it is immoral and the biggest group probably doesn't care much one way or another. So, you cannot criticize her for violated a standard which society doesn't have.

Second, can you please cite some scientific research on the morality of homosexual sex? I wasn't aware the science could determine issues of morality.

162. rhett - July 26, 2010 at 09:34 am

24 Walrus: In re:

"If you were to get into practice and tell your clients that extramarital sex is wrong, then many would stop coming to you. That's true. And society gives those who do have sexual relationships outside of marriage enough support that they would be free to regard you as a puritanical nut, fire you, and find someone who is going to listen to them rather than judge them. But it's precisely because there is no longer much social stigma to sex outside of marriage that the patient would probably know that your views are those of a minority. "

Yes, "She can always refer homosexuals to other counselors, and stay ethical, just as she can refer..." the unfaithful to colleagues, provided she is accepted by the majority of her colleagues.,,

As you suggest, SHE is now the minority in her profession regarding marriage vows, alas. Shall we not respect her for her minority views?

163. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 10:06 am

#162., It is of no small significance that one of Chairman Mao's techniques in Communist China was punishment, re-education, and requiring people to write reflection papers.

This used of "reflection" is perverse and it is a lie. It is not reflection, which is self--motivated, private, and personal. It is coercion, not reflection. Please consider your use of the term.

I'm not being flippant. Read some of Mao's work or writings of people living life under Mao.

There is plenty of scholarship now showing that "conversion therapy" is damaging. If this school had any backbone and actually wanted to be a good academic and professional program, they would have one required class on LBGT issues and feature the scholarship and studies about the effects of conversion therapy. And the point of the class is not to sit around and discuss "values" and "what I think" but to read the assigned scholarshipand methodologies. Like they say in the music recording business, leave your attitude on the hat rack on your way in. I am guessing the scholarship in this program is pretty light and that is one reason why they are falling into this rut.

164. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 10:07 am

#162. first paragragh, good point.

165. mborich - July 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

From the story:

"In 2006 the group extracted major concessions from Missouri State University in settling a lawsuit filed by a former social-work student who refused to respect a class project's requirement that she sign a letter to the state legislature in support of homosexual adoption."

As a faculty at Missouri State University, I would dispute how this lawsuit was cast by the writer. In fact, MSU faculty clearly and without adequate rationale imposed their personal beliefs on the student,then used punative measures against her when she failed to compy. The court found that the faculty heady-handed measures violated her academic rights and awarded her a sizeable settlement. The university re-assigned several faculty and re-organized the program to be in greater compliance with the university mission and academic freedom.

Similiar court cases suggest a reluctance to support the academic thought police.

166. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 01:56 pm

Currently, when a comment is deleted or moderated, it then changes the numbering on the following comments. Therefore my comment, now 164. is changed to the following:

160. panchodesastre, first paragragh, good point. (!)

167. amy_l - July 26, 2010 at 02:56 pm

If she were spouting racist beliefs, would we even be having this discussion?

168. jaysanderson - July 26, 2010 at 03:03 pm

Academic inquiry and freedom are essential (unless one's conclusions run counter to the prescribed conclusions).

Nothing about homosexuality has been scientifically settled.

It was a nice try though: "if the earth is round, then homosexuality is genetic". Similar to another brilliant comment from a few years ago: "If it doesn't fit, you must aquit". I think we know how that bit of kindergarten logic worked out.

I fail to understand why this particular segment of our society cannot be okay with acceptance, and requires everyone's APPROVAL. No one has everyone's approval on anything. Legit.

169. performance_expert2 - July 26, 2010 at 06:04 pm

A bit of satire:

During interrogatories, first question, "Professor, what year did you say you were baptised?"


170. henotic - July 26, 2010 at 07:25 pm

@tbdiscovery, #132 "They've succeeded: before them is a student with critical thinking skills who calls BS on their propaganda. Sure, her religious views are just as much progaganda, but she is free to hold those views ".

How did you learn critical thinking skills? Espousing well trodden religious beliefs inside a master's program in academia is NOT critical thinking. From her video she is simply regurgitating beliefs. This has nothing to do with critical thinking.

I have been a counselor. None of us know the complete story or both sides of this conflict. This issue is all about choosing an academic program and degree and implied usage. Her religious beliefs are religion not an academic curriculum (nor an advancement of any prevailing theory). We have to learn many ideas that we may not fall in love with, but learn them we must. And experiencing empathy for any group is critical for effective therapy. I was in school with a woman with similar biases and the school administration advised her regularly of just how her biases were affecting her therapy sessions - and not positively. And I had to take over several of her patients to undo the damage.

We are therapists first... and sure we can hold beliefs about religion, politics, social structures which has no impact on a patient. But the belief that her beliefs are correct will negatively impact those she counsels... especially very fragile and vulnerable children.

171. koine2002 - July 26, 2010 at 08:03 pm

A thesis that is not coherent with research methodology is not a good thesis. We do, in the humanties have concern with the conclusions, but in so far as they are coherent and consistent with the research methodology used. For example, a historical-critical treatment of a given passage from a historical text, such as say a federalist paper, should not have conclusions/a thesis more appropriate to a gender-critical reading.

The entire enlightenment, which so many academics idolize, was build around challenging the consensus/prevailing theories. To silence a current challenge through expulsion, ostracism, non-publication, non-graduation is frankly, hypocritical to that which built the current scientific movement. The reason that evolution rules the day is that Darwin challenged the prevailing theory/consensus. Academic freedom demands and requires that people be free to challenge the consensus.

As for the matter at hand. If here writing is indeed sub-par and she does not argue her case well, then don't graduate her. However, if her writing improves and she proves to have coherent, consistent arguments based on quality research, then, by all means, even if you disagree with her, graduate her!

Remember, we all operate within worldviews. Our worldviews influence our thinking. Our thinking brings about our conclusions. Discriminating against someone's worldview is akin to any other form of discrimination as factors outside of ourselves have a significant role in determining our worldviews.

172. 22174061 - July 26, 2010 at 08:49 pm

There's no need for you to lecture the readers of this forum on the general relevance of worldviews to people's thinking. It's Ms. Keeton who seems not to appreciate how much damage she and her particular worldview (that homosexuality is simply a choice, it is condemned in the Bible, and reparative therapy will correct the problem) could do to a vulnerable minor child suffering shame and misery over persistent feelings of same-sex attraction and desperately needing empathy and support. Trained professionals who teach and supervise counseling students have an obligation to "discriminate" between student viewpoints that are ethical and effective and those that are seriously out of step with recommendations of the American Counseling Association, the DSM-IV, and so on. Counseling is not one of the humanities, it is a helping profession that directly impacts real people's lives every day.

173. performance_expert2 - July 27, 2010 at 09:12 am

'Wonder what the opinion is of the seven deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony?

174. performance_expert2 - July 27, 2010 at 09:14 am

* A proud look
* A lying tongue
* Hands that shed innocent blood
* A heart that devises wicked plots
* Feet that are swift to run into mischief
* A deceitful witness that uttereth lies
* Him that soweth discord among brethren

175. sisyphus93 - July 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Another example of incorrect thought being punished by the intolerant campus Left. It's shameful.

176. performance_expert2 - July 27, 2010 at 01:11 pm

I'll tell you what's worse than that. I know a prof. (full professor) who gave his cat away to an uncertain end.


177. new_theologian - July 27, 2010 at 02:01 pm

I think those who support Augusta State are largely making a big conceptual error. The position seems to be that the official consensus as published in the DSM VI (is it up to VI now?) actually determines what the facts are. If that were true, then the DSM could never be revised, since, unless the DSM says, "X is a disorder" then X is NOT a disorder. X may not be a generally-recognized disorder, but does that really mean that professionals may not form the CLINICAL judgment that X actually IS a disorder? How do changes in the DSM ever come about if the answer is "no"?

So, what if the student is right in the objective order of reality? Then by precluding any intervention that presumes "X is a disorder," we preclude the possibility of definitively helping these clients. If Anorexia is a disorder, and we say that it cannot be regarded as one, then we preclude the possibility of helping those who are anorexic. That would be bad. Shouldn't the profession remain open to dialogue where a question does not have a definitive answer on the table? We do NOT know why people are homosexual, and it DOES run counter to the obvious bio-somatic structure of human beings, and it DOES correspond to increased vulnerability to disease, and it DOES correspond to increases in depression and suicide. At what point are we allowed to wonder if it just MIGHT be a disorder? There are good reasons to think it is, no matter how PC that may be to say. And if a clinician is not allowed to entertain that possibility, and to explore the theory (responsibly) in the clinical setting, the truth of the matter can never be tested. That's bad, no matter what the answer is in the end.

178. mindful_psych - July 27, 2010 at 02:30 pm

Respectfully, I think many of the comments miss the core issue. The issue is not what Ms. Keeton's beliefs are; she is entitled to her own opinions and beliefs on her own time. However, counselors and psychologists are bound by ethical codes to strive for beneficence/nonmaleficence (doing good and avoiding doing harm). When Ms. Keeton takes her beliefs into the realm of professional practice, she is under obligation to help and not harm people. The current weight of evidence strongly indicates that sexual orientation is not a choice, and practices like conversion therapy are a) not effective in producing change, and b) contribute to additional psychological distress (see the APA Task Force Report Dec 2000 in the American Psychologist). Graduate programs have an obligation to ensure that their students are learning about and practicing within the bounds of the best ethical and scientific knowledge that we have at the present moment.

Ms. Keeton's willingness to impose her views on others, to the disregard of the current base of evidence, when she is a in a position of power is troubling, particularly when she will be counseling children. If she refrained from imposing or advocating the imposition of her views on clients, I would bet the current conflict would not exist. Were Ms. Keeton displaying the same level of concern for her clients' rights and wellbeing as she is displaying for her own, she would understand that as things stand, her program could not have ethically ignored her actions.

179. 22174061 - July 27, 2010 at 03:09 pm

new_theologian, you seem quite unfamiliar with the past hundred years of scientific research on sexuality, research that leads many scientific authorities to draw a useful analogy with handedness - the large majority of people are right-handed, but a stable minority are left-handed and a few people are ambidextrous. Left-handedness is occasionally an advantage (e.g., in certain sports), but more often a disadvantage given the way our world is organized, and left-handedness has historically been subject to prejudice (cf. the origin of the word "sinister"). Left-handers are also more vulnerable to various health problems (birth defects, neurological disorders). We don't know why there are left-handed people any more than we know why there are gay and lesbian people, but scientific evidence suggests differential exposure to various hormones (e.g., testosterone) during gestation - for handedness, and also for sexual orientation. Another relevant scientific fact, as the reader directly above notes, is that efforts to change people's sexual orientation (e.g., the "conversion" therapy Ms. Keeton is alleged to support) do not seem to work. Changes in sexual attraction, if they occur at all, are fleeting, just as efforts to change people's handedness once were back when that was the practice. None of this precludes helping people who want help, but it does suggest that the belief gay or lesbian people have simply chosen their sexual orientation, and deserve condemnation for their non-Biblical lifestyles, is not likely to be helpful, especially with a vulnerable adolescent. Secular counseling (e.g., in public schools) is supposed to be based as much as possible on scientific thinking rather than the kind of religious or philosophical traditions that many contributors to this forum seem to be using. Ms. Keeton enrolled in a graduate program training students to perform secular, not religious, counseling. As countless others on this forum have noted, there are Christian counseling programs all over the South that would seem to fit her better.

180. blackbart - July 27, 2010 at 03:21 pm

@mindful_psych said: "Respectfully, I think many of the comments miss the core issue. The issue is not what Ms. Keeton's beliefs are; she is entitled to her own opinions and beliefs on her own time. However, counselors and psychologists are bound by ethical codes to strive for beneficence/nonmaleficence (doing good and avoiding doing harm). When Ms. Keeton takes her beliefs into the realm of professional practice, she is under obligation to help and not harm people."

This is exactly right. But mindful_psych (echoing many many many other writers on this thread) also said: "Ms. Keeton's willingness to impose her views on others, to the disregard of the current base of evidence, when she is a in a position of power is troubling, particularly when she will be counseling children."

The problem is that, as far as the lawsuit and this article go, Ms. Keeton has NEVER EXPRESSED such willingness to "impose her views on others." This here, RIGHT here, THIS thing is the isue that is maddening to me as I read this thread. Ms. Keeton has opinions with which the academy and most of these readers disagree with. That's fine--but at NO point has she ever indicated (so far as I can see) that she's EVER "imposed her views" on others, or that she's EVER indicated she'd do so in a clinical setting. She was expected to express her views on these matters in a class setting, and she did so. It's an enormous leap from her expressing such opinions when being told to do so by an instructor and her preaching conversion therapy to a future client.

What's most disturbing to me is that the tenor of this is that, if she has these opinions, then she's automatically a evangelizing monster who will drive any gay students she meets to suicide. I'm saddened that it's so unimaginable to so many people on this thread that she might mean what she says when she wants to be an effective counselor to all her future clients, and that she might be able to be so even while holding these views.

181. mindful_psych - July 27, 2010 at 03:58 pm

@blackbart state that "I'm saddened that it's so unimaginable to so many people on this thread that she might mean what she says when she wants to be an effective counselor to all her future clients, and that she might be able to be so even while holding these views." I don't doubt that Ms. Keeton brings good intentions to her future work. However good her intentions, though, her unwillingness to review the current scientific literature on the issue indicates that she is not interested in gathering the information necessary to be an informed and compassionate counselor with the LGBT population. This disregard for scientific evidence on the matter is problematic, particularly when the population in question has experienced a history of discrimination from the mental health field.

It is also customary (and ethically required) to refer clients to another therapist if your own personal beliefs get in the way of providing appropriate therapy for the client. For example, let's say I were to have a belief that divorce was always wrong, no matter what (I don't, but for the sake of the example, let's imagine) and I were uninterested in reading about the actual studies looking at the impact of divorce. If I then I were to have a client who was miserably unhappy in his marriage, who was contemplating divorce and wanted to discuss the anxiety and depression tied to his unhappy marriage, could I provide ethical and effective therapy to him and allow him to explore the full range of his options? Based on the ethics codes, no; I would have to refer to someone who could better separate his or her own values from the client's. Same situation with Ms. Keeton; holding her own beliefs so strongly, combined with flat-out refusing to educate herself about the research on the topic, is grounds to say she is not competent to work with the LGBT population.

182. blackbart - July 27, 2010 at 05:00 pm

@mindful_psyche says: "However good her intentions, though, her unwillingness to review the current scientific literature on the issue indicates that she is not interested in gathering the information necessary to be an informed and compassionate counselor with the LGBT population."

Show me where she says this, or implies this, and then we can talk. Until then, I'm willing to believe her when she says in this article, in as many words, that DOES want "to be an informed and compassionate counselor with the LGBT population."

"It is also customary (and ethically required) to refer clients to another therapist if your own personal beliefs get in the way of providing appropriate therapy for the client."

If you read upthread to my previous posts (and I don't blame you if you haven't!), you'll see that I've suggested precisely this several times. The fact that Ms. Keeton's instructors seem hellbent on changing her beliefs on this issue, rather than instructing to the course of action you describe (and that any responsible couselor certainly must take from time to time) is what's troubling to me and several others.

...and again, I'd ask you to report where you see that she would disagree with exactly the position you've described. Until you do, I think we owe it to this and to any student to trust them to lean on the professional training we've provided. Ms. Keeton has never said she'd replace that training with evangelism based on her own views. She's done nothing except to express those views when called upon to do so. Why is that, of itself, a disqualification?

183. mondo8man - July 27, 2010 at 05:23 pm

It never ceases to amaze me how intellectually smug and superior many philosofes feel they are to others. The arrogant and condescending attitudes in many of these postings are just astounding. Now, let's play a little game. It's called "What if?" What if...this student were an openly gay, loud and proud, homosexual? What if... this university, receiving federal funding, attempted to withhold a counselling degree from the student until said student denounced her homosexual views and beliefs? What if...this student were required to undergo a Christian Lifestyle remediation program with one of the professors suggesting that this homosexual student also attend a Christian revival so that she might learn to "appreciate" Christianity better? The uproar would be heard around the world. See? This is yet another example of political correctness running amok, along with more attempts to cram the homosexual agenda down EVERYONE'S throats. This is what happens to our education system when the liberal "Thought Police" gains control.

184. stevenkass - July 27, 2010 at 10:28 pm


Christian schools that receive federal funding expel gay students regularly without much uproar. I doubt many openly gay students choose to attend places like Regent University or Liberty University to get degrees in counseling, but if they did, the schools probably behave as you describe - try to change the student, then expel them if that doesn't work.

(It's not clear such a student would be admitted, since the application requires a letter from clergy evaluating "your spiritual maturity and suitability for graduate study that will include a Christian integration.")

Regent specifically mentions "biblical truths" on the web site for its graduate program in school counseling.

185. mindful_psych - July 27, 2010 at 11:37 pm

@blackbart - "Show me where she says this, or implies this [unwillingness to review the scientific literature], and then we can talk. Until then, I'm willing to believe her when she says in this article, in as many words, that DOES want "to be an informed and compassionate counselor with the LGBT population.". I'm glad you asked. I'm taking this directly from the last paragraph of the article.

Quoting directly from the articl above: "The lawsuit says Augusta State faculty members developed a remediation plan specifically for Ms. Keeton and told her she would be expelled from the College of Education's counselor-education program if she did not fulfill its requirements. The plan calls on Ms. Keeton to attend workshops on serving diverse populations, read articles on counseling gay, lesbian, and bisexual and transgendered people, and write reports to an adviser summarizing what she has learned....Ms. Keeton has refused to comply." This plan calls for her to educate herself on the current scientific literature and demonstrate an understanding of what that literature has found; by her own admission, she refused to do so. That refusal to fulfill a basic area of competence in the educational curriculum is what has landed Ms. Keeton in hot water here, not a refusal to change her beliefs.

Sorry, I know this may seem like splitting hairs, and I do have sympathy for Ms. Keeton's dilemma, but the program is required to meet ethical standards including having all students meet basic levels of competence in all areas of practice - and for counselors, demonstrating understanding and respect for the different issues of a wide array of diverse populations is a basic competence. Once she has met that level of competence, then, as you've mentioned, she can limit the scope of her practice and refer to other practitioners, but she still has to meet the competency first.

186. performance_expert2 - July 27, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Before I get back to real world, cutting out and rebuilding rot, clearing weeds and cultivating the land, administering to the sick and needy, housing and nutrition, and trying to build wealth for myself and others, I have a photo statement on this recent habit of American fetish:


187. performance_expert2 - July 28, 2010 at 12:16 am

I attended a private Christian university for a year. At that time, two girls were expelled because they were seen dancing at a club. At the time, it was basically prohibited for a student to be in a club where alcohol was served, and dancing in such a club was completely off the charts for getting expelled. Meanwhile, there was no agenda whatsoever regarding homosexuality, this was not a topic of concern on the campus and there were a few effete(?) limp wristed males who seemed quite cheerio with the arrangement. It was a nice clean campus with good solid dorms, no mold, good food, and the price for attending was reasonable and accessible. The school provided excellent instruction in business, mathematics, and pre-med for things like surgery- nuts and bolts of medicine. The advanced study of humanities/philosophy was pretty non-existent. The one graduate of the school that I know today went on to a top tier medical school and now makes an obscene income (between 1/2-1 mil.$/year.) as a physician and has that weird mixture of control instinct, non-specific bigotry, and an incredible ability to ignore social issues while enriching him/herself. At the same time, countless times this physician has put in the twenty hour days for years on end and saved more lives than probably any of us here.

On a different note, I fail to see why US doctors can not be content making $100-200k per year, but many do work harder than the rest of us.

If anyone wants to pull their head out of the sand, there is a coming crisis in the USA with not enough doctors for the population. This has been well and clearly written about and at this time, no one seems to give it any heed, even though it would "behoove" you, as Roy Clark might say. I guess it is the "me" generation as we consume and savage and continue to leave a mess as legacy to the younger generation.

Other news: with the last week, there were four shootings in my locale, including a baby being shot and a teenager climbing into someone's yard for help before collapsing (he later died). Currently, half way through 2010, the number of police officer deaths this year is up 40% from one year ago.

And to conclude, I think every post to the US CHE should include a mention of the debt colony and the conspicuous US habit now of loading students up with debt when they go to get their schooling.

188. performance_expert2 - July 28, 2010 at 01:16 am

"Modern gay Christian leader Justin R. Cannon promotes what he calls "Inclusive Orthodoxy" (not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox Church). He explains on his ministry website: "Inclusive Orthodoxy is the belief that the Church can and must be inclusive of LGBT individuals without sacrificing the Gospel and the Apostolic teachings of the Christian faith." Cannon's ministry takes a unique approach quite distinct from modern liberal Christians, yet which still supports homosexual relations. His ministry affirms the divine inspiration of the Bible, the authority of Tradition, and says "...that there is a place within the full life and ministry of the Christian Church for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians, both those who are called to lifelong celibacy and those who are partnered"

(from the dreaded Wikipedia)

189. performance_expert2 - July 28, 2010 at 03:48 am

See, where they messed up is they should have required her to watch this music video and write a critical analysis paper: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q77YBmtd2Rw

190. walrus - July 28, 2010 at 09:21 am

The Eastern Michigan case tells us which way this is going. Goodbye, Ms. Keeton!

191. walrus - July 28, 2010 at 09:30 am

@blackbart: I have to say, you put up the good fight, but now you have your answer. Ms. Keeton has no case.

192. blackbart - July 28, 2010 at 10:44 am

@mindful_psyche: Your point, illustrated from your quotation of the article, is well-taken, and I'm ready to concede that Ms. Keeton may indeed be unwilling to learn clinical standards for this population as you suggest. If that's the case, then I think you'll find me in agreement with most of what you've had to say on this thread.

...and apologies for my own hair-splitting, but I find it unfortunate that the chain of events leading to this suit didn't give Ms. Keeton the opportunity to learn those standards WITHOUT the other activities suggested/mandated by her faculty: I'm referring to those activities such as attending a gay-pride parade that seem clearly intended to "change her views" on homosexuality writ large rather than instructing her in those clinical standards. (Her account of her remediation meetings with her instructors in her lawsuit suggests that this was indeed her faculty's goal.)

As I've tried to say all along, the inability or unwillingness of this faculty--and of academic intelligentsia

193. blackbart - July 28, 2010 at 10:47 am

@mindful_psyche: Your point, illustrated from your quotation of the article, is well-taken, and I'm ready to concede that Ms. Keeton may indeed be unwilling to learn clinical standards for this population as you suggest. If that's the case, then I think you'll find me in agreement with most of what you've had to say on this thread.

...and apologies for my own hair-splitting, but I find it unfortunate that the chain of events leading to this suit didn't give Ms. Keeton the opportunity to learn those standards WITHOUT the other activities suggested/mandated by her faculty: I'm referring to those activities such as attending a gay-pride parade that seem clearly intended to "change her views" on homosexuality writ large rather than instructing her in those clinical standards. (Her account of her remediation meetings with her instructors in her lawsuit suggests that this was indeed her faculty's goal.)

As I've tried to say all along, the inability or unwillingness of this faculty--and of academic intelligentsia to tolerate the simple existence of a perspective grounded in religious morality is what chills me most about this story. That chill in my marrow remains.

194. walrus - July 28, 2010 at 11:27 am

@blackbart: How does this series of events suggest an unwillingness "to tolerate the simple existence of a perspective grounded in religious morality"? It's an unwillingness to tolerate a perspective that denies other perspectives and shows a willingness to foist that intolerant perspective on those who seek her help. Why you insist that she's being persecuted for what she believes and not her inability or unwillingness to DO what the job requires is beyond me. Her actions are what is at issue here, not her "perspective."

It's a simple case of her not being a good fit for the profession. She's just not qualified, and I'm certain that the federal judge hearing this case will rule exactly as the federal judge in Detroit did in the EMU case. The ACA guidelines for qualification are very clear and very straightforward.

For the most part, I just hear your argument as suggesting that Christians should be exempted from qualification requirements if those requirements interfere with their right to assert their religious beliefs whenever and wherever they please.

195. stinkcat - July 28, 2010 at 01:18 pm

In these types of cases the students never seem to want to exclude all homosexual students, just those situations where they might have to affirm behaviors that they believe are immoral. What is the difference between this and an OB/GYN who refuses to perform abortions or prescribe birth control? As a society we very readily agree that nobody should be made to perform an abortion against their will, why should a similar conscience clause not be available for the counseling profession?

196. performance_expert2 - July 28, 2010 at 01:47 pm

194. Walrus, There is a difference in the EMU case, which involved a refusal to provide services during clinical training with clients.

197. blackbart - July 28, 2010 at 02:19 pm

@walrus: What stinkcat said. You see this belief system as disqualifying, I see it as handicapping her ability to address a section of issues that impact a certain demographic.

Isn't EVERY counselor handicapped in some way to deal with SOME section of issues that impact SOME demographic? I and others have presented plenty of examples of this above. What makes THIS issue special? (Answer: it represents a politicaly incorrect view.)

198. snexas - July 28, 2010 at 02:46 pm

Would we accept this if Ms. Keeton were a medical student who said she would deny care to AIDS patients because she thought they got AIDS through immoral behavior? Would we accept it if she were a pharmacy student who would deny medicine to diabetes patients because she thinks they are gluttonous? I don't think we would. Counseling is a profession that has a certain set of standards. If you want that degree schools need to be sure you're educated in the current professional standards. No one is saying if Ms. Keeton were in private practice she would need to see homosexual patients. However, there are plenty of other careers in her chosen profession where she would be expected to uphold the current professional standards. I don't believe Ms. Keeton was so stupid that she didn't know this. The American Family Association, a group that actively tries to deny homosexuals their civil rights, is funding this legal battle. This was obviously planned.


199. stinkcat - July 28, 2010 at 03:00 pm

"Would we accept this if Ms. Keeton were a medical student who said she would deny care to AIDS patients because she thought they got AIDS through immoral behavior?"

I don't think that even 99.9% of Christians would think this is appropriate. But, suppose this AIDS patients tells a therapist that he is going to go out and have unprotected sex and not inform the potential partner, something that would probably offend most people in society. The therapist is supposed to support and affirm this person's decision?

200. walrus - July 28, 2010 at 03:00 pm

@stinkcat: (1) Because performing an abortion is a very different act than acting as an authority figure representing both an institution and society at large that tells a child that there is something fundamentally wrong with him or her. (2) Because as a high school counselor students can't just go to another counselor, and being told by a counselor that her problem is just "too much for her" will only compound that child's feelings of inferiority.

@performance_expert2: Ms. Keeton refuses to go to events (such as the gay parade) where she believes her mere attendance would amount to affirmation of homosexuality. How is that refusal any different from Ms. Ward's refusal?

@blackbart: It's a politically correct profession. Don't like it, don't do it. You see it as a handicap, I see it as disqualifying. The judge will decide, I guess.

201. blackbart - July 28, 2010 at 03:15 pm

@walrus said: "It's a politically correct profession."

I don't even know what this means. Does every card-carrying member of the professional society see eye-to-eye on every issue? I would bet that they don't even on THIS issue. The state of being a "politically correct" profession isn't even relevant to the objections and concerns raised in this discussion.

"Oh, it's a politically correct profession? My bad. She should think just like everyone else." Is that what I'm supposed to say at this point?

202. chicagoindependent - July 28, 2010 at 04:45 pm

<Comment removed by moderator>

203. performance_expert2 - July 28, 2010 at 07:12 pm

Walrus, if you can not see the difference in what is done in clinical training, and being singled out for extra-assignment belief modification activities, I don't know what to tell you. This case will have much to do with how skilled a strategist the young lady and is and how she has played the edges. For example, she appears to be well and good with treating LBGT subjects/patients/whatever and the dept. reaction seems to be due to her expressing her view. Something else that occurs to me about this case is that this is an adult student who dared to speak and have an opinion. I would there are many grad. programs where students are not to have an opinion on any number of issues. I have seen professional training programs where students do not discuss anything, literally. No one offers their paper for anyone else to read. No one is interested in reading anyone else's paper. It is simply a training regime and the students wait until they can exit the door and resume their lives. For a student to speak out about anything- politics, economy, debt, poisoned growth hormone food (used in USA in fast food- banned in europe), oh and 9/11? for sooth?, tuition going up 50%, really questionable expensive textbooks and new editions; Walrus, the bottom line is that students do not even act as if they are alive, much less as animate social humans with interactive power.

Today my doctor mentioned to me the effect of growth-hormone meats. He said what is put in the animals then ends up in the human beings and this is making the young people physically develop into puberty / adult bodies more quickly. He also said there are links from these livestock growth hormones and breast cancer in humans. Does anyone, any US citizen in one of these humanities graduate programs address any of this? None that I have seen. At a university I have attended, the tuition went up 45% and not a soul anywhere mentioned it, no student and no faculty. This just occured in silence.

204. performance_expert2 - July 28, 2010 at 07:24 pm

And- let's say that the young lady might develop a more modern view of things, however this takes life experience and can not be dictated. As I stated before in this commentary, if this academic was worth their salt, they should just have a required course on LGBT and have current scholarship including the harm of modification therapy. I think it is very significant that the dept. is probably a little cowardly with being full and front-center with their training agenda. For example, if they had a required LGBT course, probably all hell would break loose locally and they would have the local church picketing their door. Well, so what. Get some spine. Part of this problem is they are practicing governance all on-the-quiet one on one with a targetted student. That's not education and they need to get real with their program. Usually, where you have a problem this significant, there is opportunity to then do something new and set an example as a top education provider. But is this going to happen? Is Augusta State University going to make and require a LGBT course for their education students, counseling and otherwise? A course with good modern scholarship articles, not just some single volume expensive crap text book from Big Corporate and maybe a bunch of classroom yacking about "I FEEL" this and "I FEEL" that? Well, I kind of doubt it. And I think this is the real core of the problem, is hypnotic programs with junky corporate text books and low academic demand on students, I mean as in not even turning the light on, and otherwise this intellectually lazy convenience of doing an authority routine on students instead of educating them and promoting dialog and development of intellect and ability. GOT IT?

205. performance_expert2 - July 28, 2010 at 07:29 pm

Put a LGBT course in the education training curriculum.

206. performance_expert2 - July 28, 2010 at 07:39 pm

The way you educate students is not through sending them on extra curricular activities and forcing them to write Mao Tse Tung self-evaluation re-education confessional. The way you educate students is by having them read real scholarship and pertinent essays. The life of the mind is not tranmitted through video and going to parades, it is transmitted through the eyeballs and the mechanism of reading and engaging the mind. (obligatory mention: brain and audio for those who require it.) For example, Jonathan's Swift's "A Modest Proposal" (1729) was a serious commentary on child labor. This was being educated in the humanites mean, having some bearing and being minimally read in strong works by individual intellectuals. Read it and weep, those of you who make your students read disposable contemporary publishing and articles with multiple authors joining in for the publishing credit. This is the difference between ivy league schools and rural training programs with junky curriculum who use corporate textbooks from the same grid that has taken over their governance as well. Professors in these programs are serving many masters and the least of these are the students.

Soapbox Binary: OFF.

207. rabbitquest - July 30, 2010 at 08:54 am

In the last few decades, the gay community has made public advancements towards equal treatment. This slow and energy consuming task is how the American society is slowly transformed in it's functional beliefs. The DSM, can serve as our collective society's thoughts on what is acceptable and viable.

People who seek out counselors usually are deeply troubled by something, and are seeking peace.

As people in our society have fewer avenues to develop quality friendships, so that nobody really has a real friend to trust and lend an ear, the counselor is possibly a uniquely 'American' phenomenon of our modern culture.

The school training this lady to be a counselor, is sort of requiring a 'field trip' into the gay experience because of the student's professed personal opinions on the gay lifestyle.

The concern is to make sure a counselor counsels in a particular way, as accepted by the current standard American culture.

It is an interesting thought to transplant the idea of a 'counselor' into different cultures, and to imagine how they might 'counsel' a person, so that they may become a fully functioning member of that particular society.

For example, in America, it is normal, and even encouraged amongst fellow men to score as many women per month, and brag about it, and it is legal, as long as you dont care about them afterwards.

for men who want to care about more than one woman, an American Counselor would have to counsel against that.

A Saudi 'counselor' where it is better to have extra wives, and where if you have an affair outside of marriage, you get stoned to death, you would want to avoid that.

Then their is that tribal culture where the little boys give nightly blow jobs to the grown ups, I will leave it up to your imagination what a 'counselor' would do to get a little boy up and functioning in that culture.

208. wombat319 - July 30, 2010 at 10:21 am

Here's the deal: Many of us, as Christians, believe that homosexuality is perverted and sick. I am one of them. That said, I do not hate gays...I hate their LIFESTYLE, and don't need it in my face every time I turned around. I would like them to go back into the closet and keep their sexual practices OUT OF MY LIFE and OUT OF THE LIVES OF MY GRANDCHILDREN. I realize that isn't going to occur because we have let it get too far. But we have a RIGHT NOT TO ACCEPT IT, and I--for one--DO NOT.

209. cinnacam - July 31, 2010 at 07:07 pm

I too am a Christian. Kudos to Jennifer for standing her ground. Augusta is basically saying that only people who believe that homosexuality is genetic should be allowed to become counselors. That is absurd. They seem to be saying that ALL counselors have to believe the same thing, come from the same background, and counsel people exactly the same. That is ridiculous. We are all individuals. We all come to our jobs with different beliefs, backgrounds, ideas, and experiences. Also, why aren't all counseling students at Augusta forced to attend church services and belive in Jesus so that they can effectively counsel Christians who may come to them? Jennifer is clearly being discriminated against because of her faith.

210. drkull - July 31, 2010 at 09:56 pm

Most religions stress accepting people who are different from the mainstream and helping people to find a path in society. Including Christianity. However, there are individuals who twist the ideals to feel special about themselves instead of holding convention up to the light of reason, which is why we're here.

To me she has every right to hold whatever views she wishes. And the courts should uphold that right. The university has a responsibility to point out that the literature strongly disagrees with her position, but if she makes a reasoned argument so be it.

In the end it speaks to credibility. As both liberals and conservatives learn to become reasonable people in a pluralistic society, we can let the marketplace of ideas bury her. Which it will, unless we academics come off as just as self-righteous as the self-righteous. Then it's just a pissing match and no one gets anywhere.

211. weho1 - July 31, 2010 at 11:48 pm

I don't have a religious ax to grind & I am not a homophobe - in fact, I live in West Hollywood CA, arguably one of the gayest cities on earth. I work with, and am friends with a ton of gay people. That being said, the years that I have lived here have impacted my view of homosexuality as biology. Here (and nationally) the average gay man lives to 40 while heterosexuals live to 70. In addition to falling prey to the fatal immune diseases like AIDS, gay men are victims of their sexual practices which lead to perforated rectums & blood born diseases, rectal cancer, chronic liver disorders & hepatitis. And even here, where there is no social pressure against homosexuality, gay men commit suicide at an astronomically higher rate than heterosexual men. So even if I could remove myself from the emotional impact of watching y friends struggle with health issues & i could somehow look at this purely from natural selection in biology, I would have to conclude that being gay will kill you. It would seem logical that if evolution was really producing gay genes then it would seem that it would also produce genes that change the shape & function of the colon & rectum to make gay sex possible without injury. (Which in all fairness, might not be happening because as a general rule gay people who practice their sexuality exclusively don't reproduce, so there would be no progress in gene mutation.)

I guess, my question as it relates to this case is this: if a school counselor saw a child endangering herself by playing in traffic, we would expect that she would rush out & impose her values on that child & take them out of the street. So why do we villainize a counselor who, regardless of her religious positions, wants to keep people from making a life choice that will end in sickness and death? Isn't that the rationale behind making the use of some drugs illegal? We are saying that people have freedom to pursue happiness, but we acknowledge that some freedoms naturally lend to abuses that will cause damage to individuals, families and friends in such a way as to make our society poorer. Don't get me wrong - I am not saying we should legislate sexuality - I'm just trying to ask the kinds of questions that the academy is apparently avoiding these days. And speaking of the academy, why is she not permitted to challenge the status quo of currently accepted psychological theory. Hasn't all progress in every scientific field come from challenging the current teaching & pushing on to the new one?

At the end of the day, there is a constitutional protection of people's religious beliefs that we have to embrace even if they contradict ours. Because if their beliefs can be squelched and silenced, then so can ours (read the Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn). If we say she can't be a counselor because of her beliefs, then what can she be? A teacher? That would be out. A scientist? That would be out. A writer? No, that too would influence people. So I say let her be a counselor. And let our democratic-republic-free market do the self correcting it was designed to do. The principles of free market say that if someone offers a product or service that there is no market for, that they will eventually have to offer a different product or service lest they go bankrupt. Let her get her degree - Perhaps we will be surprised at what jobs she does or does not get. But lets not push toward legislating what she can believe or dictate belief to her in a public university. As painful as it is to admit it, if religious zealots or neo-nazi's or hate mongers (or whoever our favorite enemy is) don't have the right to believe what they want to & speak it publicly, then none of us do.

212. rfriday631 - August 02, 2010 at 10:26 am

Ok, as an educated individual (Doctorate in Secondary Education), I find it amazing, because a student expresses personally-held views in class, an institution is requiring remedial outside work for graduation. Isn't it the purpose of educational institutions to teach material and impart basic knowledge to students? And isn't it the responsibility of the student to gather that knowledge and apply it as they see fit once they leave the institution? In my many years of study, I've had professors stand before me and teach principles I didn't agree with and told them I didn't agree with them. But in the end, when exams or papers had to be turned in, I knew my responsibility was to regurgitate back to the professor what they wanted to hear. It didn't mean I had to believe it or practice it. Now that's on the student.

As for the university, just how arrogant is it to think just because a student reads a pamphlet or goes to a function they will change their entire way of thinking. Your responsibility as a university is to teach the material. That's it and those of you who think your responsibility is more than that are doing nothing but perpetuating a myth that somehow you can change the world. If the student doesn't give back to you in the form of papers or exams what you taught, then simply fail them based on that criteria. Just as you don't want her forcing her moral convictions on you, you can't force your moral convictions on them. Just give it a rest. Teach the material and let that student do with it as they will.

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