It was almost a year ago that a conflict in an Augusta State University classroom became a national conversation.
When Jennifer Keeton, a counseling graduate student, filed a lawsuit alleging that professors threatened to expel her because she spoke out against homosexuality, she had her story on CNN and Fox News in addition to local headlines.
The Ku Klux Klan responded to Keeton's lawsuit by protesting outside the campus in her support -- which Keeton publicly condemned -- and gay rights groups and individuals also spoke up.
"Yeah, people were really talking about it," said Erica Anderson, who was a sociology senior when Keeton filed the lawsuit against ASU on July 21. "We talked about it in class, at school, people were interested."
Eleven months later, Keeton's name is mostly forgotten. A judge has ruled in ASU's favor and Keeton has appealed, but it all culminated without much notice.
"It hasn't really been a big deal lately," said Brandon Tripp, an ASU computer science senior. "I don't even know what ever happened to her."
Keeton is currently appealing U.S. District Judge J. Randal Hall's Aug. 20 ruling that ASU was justified in requiring Keeton to undergo a remediation plan after she objected to counseling gay clients.
She filed the appeal in the U.S. District Court of Appeals three days after Hall's ruling, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Professors asked Keeton to complete the remediation plan after she said she opposed homosexuality and would tell gay clients "their behavior is morally wrong and then help the client change that behavior," according to an affidavit filed in the case.
Keeton said the requirement was viewpoint discrimination and a violation of her First Amendment freedoms. ASU officials said her idea to impose her beliefs on future clients was a violation of the American Counseling Association code of ethics.
Keeton's lawsuit was really a request for a judge to prevent the school from expelling her if she refused to fulfill the plan's requirements, which she said included a suggestion to attend last year's Augusta Gay Pride parade.
Without completing the plan, Keeton did not meet the requirements of the curriculum, and ASU expelled her Dec. 10.
Keeton did not return several telephone messages for comment for this story.
According to testimony in the initial hearing, the plan would have required Keeton to expose herself to the homosexual community, read literature on counseling gay clients and complete worksheets on her progress.
In the appeals court, six organizations, including the ACA and the American Civil Liberties Union, have filed briefs or included testimony on behalf of ASU.
Two groups, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the National Association of Scholars, filed a joint brief in support of Keeton.
On March 22, attorneys for ASU filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as moot because Keeton is no longer a student, but the court later denied that request.
Attorneys representing Keeton and ASU denied to comment for this story because of a gag order on the case.
Dr. David Kaplan, the chief professional officer for the ACA, said he's not surprised that Keeton's case is in the appeals court but that her actions are a direct violation of ACA standards.
"The ACA code of ethics is not about asking anybody to change their beliefs," Kaplan said. "Counselors clearly have the prerogative to have whatever religion they want. One of the points that gets lost in all of this stuff, from the Keeton side, is our clients are more important than we are ... We are there for them. They are not there for us."
Testimony from the ACA was used in a similar case last year when an Eastern Michigan University student unsuccessfully sued the school after being expelled for refusing to affirm the homosexual lifestyle in counseling clients.
The EMU student was represented by the same organization as Keeton, the Alliance Defense Fund.
"The driving force behind this is the Alliance Defense Fund," Kaplan said. "They are specifically looking for legal cases, not just in counseling, to promote their agenda. Their agenda is a particular world view that is exemplified by the Keeton case."
Eugene Volokh, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles and a lawyer who wrote the brief for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on behalf of Keeton, disagreed.
Volokh said that even if the school was not asking Keeton to change her beliefs, it is still unconstitutional to require her to complete extra procedures because of her religious views.
That requirement is akin to the government's imposing a tax on certain people based on their views, Volokh said.
"This is not just a case about counseling procedures; it's not just a case about the clash between religious traditionalists and supporters of gay rights," Volokh said. "This is a case about what authority a university should have to retaliate against a student who expressed certain views inside and outside the class."