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Judge puts off decision in bias case

ASU challenge awaits next step

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A U.S. District Court judge said Wednesday he needed more time to determine whether Augusta State University professors violated a student's free speech by imposing a remediation plan after she expressed concerns with counseling homosexuals.

Jennifer Keeton: Student claims ASU's remediation policy makes her violate her religious principles.   Special
Special
Jennifer Keeton: Student claims ASU's remediation policy makes her violate her religious principles.

Judge J. Randal Hall said he normally takes less than 10 minutes to decide whether to pass such a hearing on in the courts, but "this case is so significant that I feel a more thoughtful response from the court is needed."

Jennifer Keeton, who did not appear in court Wednesday, is facing dismissal from ASU's K-12 school counseling program if she does not adhere to the terms of a remediation plan.

She is scheduled to begin a practicum on Monday where she will work in a local middle school, but ASU officials said they won't allow her to participate if she doesn't meet the remediation requirements.

School officials required Keeton to complete the remediation plan after she said inside and outside class that it would be hard for her to work with homosexuals and that she would tell them their behavior is morally wrong.

During five hours of testimony, Keeton's lawyers said the plan violates her First Amendment rights by asking her not to tell clients homosexual behavior is "immoral."

"(Keeton) understands the professional obligation to avoid imposing values," attorney Jeffrey A. Shafer said. "But it's an entire other thing all together for the faculty to require her to validate what she thinks is immoral."

ASU attorneys said the school's remediation plan is not a punishment, but a tool to help Keeton learn how not to impose her beliefs on others, while still maintaining them.

They compared it to a similar plan professors gave a student who had trouble working with black clients. Professors are asking Keeton to read homosexual counseling material, attend workshops and get to know the homosexual community.

"She has a right to her beliefs, but this calls into question her ability to separate those if she were to work with a gay and lesbian client," said Dr. Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley, an ASU professor cited in Keeton's lawsuit against the school.

Anderson-Wiley said in order to graduate from the ASU counseling program, students must adhere to a viewpoint-neutral code of ethics. This includes not telling a client their homosexual behavior is right or wrong.

ASU's attorneys argue Keeton is asking for an exemption from the curriculum by asking to not have to keep a neutral viewpoint while counseling homosexual clients.

"She cannot refuse to learn how to counsel these clients, and that's what she's trying to do," said ASU attorney Cristina Maria Correia.

School officials said granting an exemption to Keeton could cause the school to lose accreditation with the American Counseling Association.

Keeton's attorneys said she believes having to adhere to the school's counseling requirements will cause her irreparable damage.

"Jennifer Keeton believes she has an obligation to God to not participate in other peoples' sin," Shafer said.

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Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 08/11/10 - 08:27 pm
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Actually, I've never been

Actually, I've never been nasty to you, but I really haven't noticed you avoiding me; quite the contrary.

Laguria
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Laguria 08/11/10 - 09:53 pm
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She looks so miserable in

She looks so miserable in that photo. Can we get a happier pic?

bone1
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bone1 08/11/10 - 10:02 pm
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she is entitled to seek her

she is entitled to seek her degree at an institution willing to grant one; ASU is not such a place, so she should take her business elsewhere. but OH NO, in the best tradition of "you can't tell me i'm wrong," this young scholar chooses to take her institution of choice to court. hope she loses big time.

3g
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3g 08/11/10 - 10:29 pm
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Dougk - you nailed it - when

Dougk - you nailed it - when she entered the program , she consented to the programs requirements , if that does not suit her religous beliefs then enroll in a school that does , it is that simple - ASU has done nothing wrong here .

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 08/12/10 - 12:45 am
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"this case is so significant

"this case is so significant that I feel a more thoughtful response from the court is needed." This case is nothing new just another round of chrisitians trying to impose thier views on the rest of society. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/28/court-university-expel-student-oppo...

Get a life people. This judge is an idiot, should have made the decision in 5 min. in favor of ASU.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 08/12/10 - 12:56 am
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Love the headline the

Love the headline the Chronicle chose. bi·as (bs) An unfair act or policy stemming from prejudice.
Just what are they trying to say? It seems they are implying ASU did wrong.

MajorPaul
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MajorPaul 08/12/10 - 04:00 am
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If ASU has a problem with how

If ASU has a problem with how Jennifer Keeton plans to counsel students, they need to take another look at their program.
Would the counseling program have a problem with a counselor telling a middle school student that incest is immoral? Why? It is a sexual behavior every bit as natural as homosexuality is.
Would the counseling program have a problem with a counselor telling a middle school student that group sex is immoral?
Do they have a problem with a person being a psychopath or a sociopath? That is even more "normal" than being gay, since there is a proven genetic disposition for those behaviors.
I mean, does a psychopath just wake up one morning and decide to follow that lifestyle?
The judge needs to really think about this issue. I can promise him there will be more cases along the same lines if he allows a school to tell a student what they must believe.
Just because Miss Keaton does not want to counsel gays, does that give them the right to not give her the degree she earned? Do they withhold a degree from a student who plans to go into child therapy because they do not choose to counsel adults?
This decision will be very important, and in a way, I hope the judge does wuss out. If it goes to the Supreme Court, ASU will probably be owned by Miss Keaton, and I am sure managed much better.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 08/12/10 - 05:11 am
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If having a secular pro-gay

If having a secular pro-gay perspective is a prerequisite for completing the counseling course, then the school should be required to make note of this fact before a student invests time and money at ASU.
Maybe the school should require Ms Keeton to take a lying course so she can express the opinions the professors require.

Techfan
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Techfan 08/12/10 - 06:11 am
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While in nursing school, if I

While in nursing school, if I had said that my religious beliefs say that you can't use medicines or surgeries, only prayer (or waving a chicken foot over someone) and pushed it on my patients, I wouldn't have gotten my degree. If you were studying geology and said all the rocks are 6,000 years old, you wouldn't get your degree. This girl's in the same boat. If you can't live up to the requirements of the degree, you don't graduate. By trying to save $ by going to a state school instead of a religious based one, that might cater to her beliefs and prejudices, she set herself up for failure. Even if the judge rules in her favor, she has limited her job choices. She will only be able to be employed in a religious based environment. She'll be right at home with people teaching that men have one less rib than women and that we lived with the dinosaurs.

FaceTheMusic
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FaceTheMusic 08/12/10 - 08:22 am
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Is no one here concerned

Is no one here concerned about the children this woman could possibly negatively impact in a counseling position? Think about it: A gay 14-15 year old goes to her and says, "Miss Keeton, I think I may be gay, and I don't know what to do." And her response is, "Well, you're just an immoral little teenager, aren't you?" What effect could this have on such a child? What if this were your child? Suppose you got home from work and found him/her swinging by the neck in the garage, and you found out that the last person he/she talked to that day at school was Miss Keeton. Would you be so happy then that she "stuck to her values." School counselors don't get to "choose" the students to counsel which meet their high moral standards. Gay teenagers already have one of the highest suicide rates in the country because of the low-esteem and bullying they have to endure. We don't need someone in the schools telling any student that he/she is immoral.

Indigo - were you also as concerned about Nixon putting William Rehnquist on the Supreme Court in 1972? Rehnquist was also a NON-judge at the time, as he had no previous "judging" experience.

LC87
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LC87 08/12/10 - 09:15 am
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Alot of comments have been

Alot of comments have been made comparing the judge in this case to the judge in the California case where Prop 8 was overturned. Judges should always rule cases through interpretation of the Constitution. However, everyone interprets the Constitution differently. The problem with comparing these two judges, however, is that the judge that overturned Prop 8 was overturning a statute that was voted on by the people. No judge should ever be able to overturn the will of the people. This is the essence of democracy and this is why we have a system of checks and balances. The judiciary does not create law. The "Prop 8" situation is very different from this case. You're comparing apples with oranges.

Jeffro
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Jeffro 08/12/10 - 09:48 am
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Pastor Dan, Please correct if

Pastor Dan, Please correct if needed. As a Christian, The Bible is clear on what I'm suppose to do. Love God, Love each other. It also says that I should NOT act in a manner that makes Christians seem "crazy" or in a bad light. (Bible beating as I've heard it called).
Not all Christians have the ability to be an effective witness, and as I see it, a couselor job is to listen to other peoples negative problems and help them to a more positive outcome, whatever their situation.
After being through the victoms of violet crimes couselling, they used church as a possible solution in a profesional manner by saying I need to be involved in positive reinfocement groups and gave examples of support groups including church.

Ms. Keeton is not being ask to "participate" in sin, but rather to observe to better unstand where these people come from and how they interact among themselves.
Gay folks are just like me and you. Sinners. Their sins are sexual based. News Flash...There's lots of sexual based sins going on in the world.
If she can't counsel sinners, then who is there left to counsel?

Most folks are drawn to God because of the light. The light of God's love dwelling inside you and your ability to spread that love to others. It should shine in dark places so that folks can see it.

This case should be dismissed.

jiclemens
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jiclemens 08/12/10 - 10:01 am
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lc87, "No judge should ever

lc87, "No judge should ever be able to overturn the will of the people. "

Then we don't need judges. Let's go back to lynching parties. That's just plain stupid.

MajorPaul, Where to begin with your silly ignorant remarks. You obviously haven't paid attention the last month either. Every few hours we have to be subjected to the non-logic that is comparing homosexuality with criminal behavior. I don't think you are qualified to comment on what the "job" of a counselor is if you think it is a simple matter of preaching your idea of christian "morality." You don't need to go to ASU for that. Start up your own church and council away. You and Ms Keeton don't need a degree on the wall for that, or you can buy it over the internet if it would help. Just stay away from my kids.

1941
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1941 08/12/10 - 10:05 am
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She should become a preacher,

She should become a preacher, instead of a counsler!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why should she have the right to tell others that thier choices are not for them!!!!! Another republican trying to make everyone believe they are the only ones that are right about everything!!!!!!!!!

Dixieman
15328
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Dixieman 08/12/10 - 10:27 am
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Serious question (for a

Serious question (for a change): Could this lawsuit have been brought if ASU were a private college?

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 08/12/10 - 10:32 am
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LC87 Thursday, Aug. 12 9:15

LC87 Thursday, Aug. 12 9:15 AM "The problem with comparing these two judges, however, is that the judge that overturned Prop 8 was overturning a statute that was voted on by the people. No judge should ever be able to overturn the will of the people. This is the essence of democracy and this is why we have a system of checks and balances."
-----------------------------
Why is that so many people in the CSRA do not understand American history and government and how it works?

flipa
35
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flipa 08/12/10 - 10:50 am
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Thank God Judge J. Randal

Thank God Judge J. Randal Hall is actually going to READ a case file. seems like most Ga Judges have a temp worker choose from three rubber stamps.
Dismissed
Summery Judgment
or DUH. ha haha

Wouldn't want to put a crimp their T-Times and have them actually READ these cases now would we?

montega12
0
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montega12 08/12/10 - 12:04 pm
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the point of the lawsuit is

the point of the lawsuit is she was told she had ro be reprogrammed...how can any of you assume how she will counsel in a professional clinical environment......she discussed her beliefs in an open academic setting not a professional one and all of you people that can seemingly see into the future are proclaiming she could cause a homo kid to kill himself...i mean how do you know that...this lawsuit is about you abandon your rights to believe what you want and replace it with what we tell you to believe...you know there are millions of people that believe pedophilia is okay so if a college professor tells you you have to be totally okay with a child molester to graduate a program and if you dont you have to view child porn you people would be okay with that....its the same side of a coin you know

dougk
3
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dougk 08/12/10 - 12:37 pm
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Montega, the article here and
Unpublished

Montega, the article here and the one that you are reacting to makes a rather clear statement about how she would counsel in a professional clinical setting:

"School officials required Keeton to complete the remediation plan after she said inside and outside class that it would be hard for her to work with homosexuals and that she would tell them their behavior is morally wrong."

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 08/12/10 - 01:05 pm
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LC87: As stated on a previous

LC87: As stated on a previous post, it doesn't matter what people vote if it's unconstitutional. We can't vote to not allow women, blacks, or anyone over 18 to vote. We can't vote to not pay income tax. We are not a straight democracy, we are a constitutional republlic. Like it or not.

dougk
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dougk 08/12/10 - 01:11 pm
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It makes no matter how many
Unpublished

It makes no matter how many times it is repeated, Techfan.
Some people must just choose to remain ignorant....it's not a complex design.

God save America
62
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God save America 08/12/10 - 01:53 pm
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some students have more

some students have more problems than being gay .worry about the important things and let the gays go on doctor phil. i have no problems with gay's as long as they leave me alone. the only gay's she would have to talk to are the one's who decide not to be gay .

LC87
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LC87 08/12/10 - 03:39 pm
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While it is true that a judge

While it is true that a judge can overturn a law or statute if it is unconstitutional, the Constitution is interpreted in many different ways. Of course we are not a pure democracy, otherwise we would vote on everything and this is not practical. We have a representative democracy and if it worked in the way that it should, our representatives would uphold the views of the majority of society.
Prop 8 could have gone to another judge in California and it could have been ruled on differently. It is debatable whether or not "Prop 8" is or isn't constitutional, depending on whom you speak to.
Bottom line: does it not concern you that we (using that term loosely, as i am not a citizen of california and did not vote for or against Prop 8) can vote on an issue, but the outcome of that vote can be overturned from a judge's bench?
The point of my earlier comment was simply to state that while judges shouldn't be biased, they are. All judges have belief systems and it is iinherent that our belief systems guide our decisions. But, these are two
different types of cases, no matter what side of the argument you are on
(in either situation.)

dougk
3
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dougk 08/12/10 - 05:08 pm
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That's why there's an appeals
Unpublished

That's why there's an appeals process....so one judge's opinion/interpretation is not necessarily the be all and end all.

secretagentman
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secretagentman 08/12/10 - 07:07 pm
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it is a pretty simple case--

it is a pretty simple case-- she expressed views( I am still betting pretty openly and vehemently) that made the school feel she cannot or will not adhere to the code of ethics required by their degree. They do not have to give her a degree if they do not feel she meets the requirements- and following ( or at least saying you will follow) a code of ethics is part of this particular degree. You have to earn a degree by adhering to the program.

baronvonreich
0
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baronvonreich 08/12/10 - 08:04 pm
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LC87 Thursday, Aug. 12 3:39

LC87 Thursday, Aug. 12 3:39 PM
Bottom line: does it not concern you that we can vote on an issue, but the outcome of that vote can be overturned from a judge's bench?
-----------------------------
No it doesn't and I would assume most blacks in the south who were enslaved and denied civil rights for another century after they were "freed" would not be concerned with the idea of the courts overturning the votes of an oppressive majority either.

SouthernChic
3
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SouthernChic 08/12/10 - 08:48 pm
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"Jennifer Keeton believes she

"Jennifer Keeton believes she has an obligation to God to not participate in other peoples' sin," Shafer said.

That's the excuse? Oh come on. It's not like ASU is asking her to engage in homosexual relations.

momster59
0
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momster59 08/12/10 - 09:05 pm
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I'm not going to rehash all

I'm not going to rehash all the logical point of meeting NATIONAL accreditation standards for public school counseling, remediation being required of more people than just her for similar reasons other than religion, etc. In this article it states she will be working in a middle school. The middle school setting presents some major dilemmas:
1. She has previously stated she would have to refer gay students to other counselors. In a middle school there is normally only one guidance counselor, to whom is she going to refer these students?
2. Middle school is often a crisis point for gender identity and students facing bullying and abuse due to what is observed or perceived sexual orientation. Where are these students to turn?
3. She has hinted that she would "minister" to these students. What is she going to do when the enraged parents shows up with THEIR lawyer?
4. Middle school children are prone to extreme responses to trauma. How is she going to live with herself if she "ministers" a student with sexual identity issues that their feelings are an "abomination" and a "sin" commits suicide.
She needs to look into another line of work. If she wants to minister, let her enter the clergy.

freeradical
1093
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freeradical 08/12/10 - 09:06 pm
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"they compared it to a

"they compared it to a similar plan professors gave a student who had

trouble working with black clients."

Wow.

They actually had a student who counseled "black clients" that the

pigment black was a "wrong" choice and then attempted to use their

personal moral beliefs to convince the "black clients " to change their

skin color!

Now that is what I call pro-active counseling.

ColCo
803
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ColCo 08/12/10 - 09:26 pm
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Why can't she refer gay,

Why can't she refer gay, lesbian and transgender people seeking her counsel to someone else who specializes in counseling members of those groups? Physicians refer patients to each other all the time.

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