A grad student at Augusta State University who sued the school over a clash between her grad program requirements and her religious beliefs on gay people is now asking a federal appeals court to block the university from expelling her.
This is an interesting case.
In 2010, Jennifer Keeton, 24, sued after the college required her to complete a remediation program or face expulsion for her anti-gay beliefs. Her lawsuit states that her views on gays were known to faculty at the university because of her “disagreement in several class discussions and in written assignments with the gay and lesbian ‘lifestyle.’”
Backed by the nonprofit Christian advocacy Alliance Defense Fund, Keeton maintains in her lawsuit: “[Augusta State University] 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, but 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. The faculty identifies Miss Keeton’s views as indicative of her improper professional disposition to persons of such populations.”
The college counters that it must hold its counseling graduate students “to the core principles of the American Counseling Association and the American School Counselor Association, which defines the roles and responsibilities of professional counselors in its code of ethics. The code is included in the curriculum of the counseling education program, which states that counselors in training have the same responsibility as professional counselors to understand and follow the ACA Code of Ethics.”
Keeton has already been rebuffed by the courts. Earlier this year, a U.S. district judge ruled in the university’s favor.
In supporting Augusta State in its actions, the judge wrote, “The record suggests, and the testimony at the hearing bolsters, the Plan was imposed because Plaintiff exhibited an inability to counsel in a professionally ethical manner – that is, an inability to resist imposing her moral viewpoint on counselees – in violation of the ACA Code of Ethics.”
A classmate testified that Keeton said she would be compelled by her beliefs to tell gay or lesbian counseling clients that their behaviors were morally wrong and must be changed.