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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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momster59
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momster59 08/12/10 - 08:33 pm
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Colco - because she's the

Colco - because she's the only counselor in a middle school, not a private practice. She cannot refer her students out.

momster59
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momster59 08/12/10 - 08:35 pm
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Colco - because she's the

Colco - because she's the only counselor in a middle school, not a private practice. She cannot refer her students out.

dougk
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dougk 08/12/10 - 08:37 pm
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Colco....the point is that
Unpublished

Colco....the point is that she's not cutting the very basic skills or mindset that it takes to be a counselor. Try this....it's like a med school student who won't learn to handle or treat anything she considers to be "yucky."
From a more fiscal perspective, who is going to be this "ouside referral" and who is going to pay for it? When a school system hires a counselor, they expect to get the full product...just like when they hire a nurse, she/he better be ready to handle yucky stuff.

dougk
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dougk 08/12/10 - 08:39 pm
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well, momster handled it well
Unpublished

well, momster handled it well enough. Maybe my yucky examples were overkill

momster59
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momster59 08/12/10 - 08:43 pm
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dougk - thank you. Grandma

dougk - thank you. Grandma magic.

dougk
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dougk 08/12/10 - 09:02 pm
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Speaking of
Unpublished

Speaking of grandparents....folks, that's what scares me the most..that she would ever get her incompetent little hands or head wrapped around one of my grandkids.

momster59
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momster59 08/12/10 - 09:08 pm
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dougk - doesn't scare me, my

dougk - doesn't scare me, my eldest son (the one with kids) is married to a very good lawyer. (love you baby, glad I didn't stone you and your little brother when you were rebellious, love my grandkids)

sassygirl352
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sassygirl352 08/12/10 - 09:18 pm
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he put off his decision

he put off his decision because she aint nuttin but a liar..all she wanted was her chance in the spotlight because we all know that, thats the only way she will get it

wishtofish
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wishtofish 08/13/10 - 12:19 am
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A "UNIVERSITY" setting should

A "UNIVERSITY" setting should promote drawing circles, not lines. The majority of campus life is NOT a contest with sides screaming at one another and the dares to cross lines as we so often witness on game day. It is not all a game, somewhat plastic, yes, but leave the game for the fields and the courts (oops, maybe poor choice of word there). This is, after all, an academic atmosphere.
One important aspect here, yet to be discussed (I think) is that ASU is working for the benefit of Ms Keeton: to protect her for when they turn her loose, if they do turn her loose. Ms. Keeton could be easily litigated if she decides to "counsel" in the manner she has stated she will. ASU has the responsibility to make sure she knows that important fact. Equally, ASU has an obligation to consider the various and varied clientele she will face.
I really don't think they are trying to "reprogram" her unless she got some poor undergrad teaching. How can you reprogram if the programming is non existent? How can a "reprogrammable" belief be a belief at all?
The curriculum/program of ASU is a study in being a disciplined, responsible counselor so that what she is doing to ASU will not be done to her. Ironic, isn't it?

Skeeter
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Skeeter 08/15/10 - 04:23 pm
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First time for me entering

First time for me entering this debate. I've read many of your posts and sense the pulse of the arguments.

There is a lot at stake in this debate, both here in GA and in Michigan. Ultimately, we may be wasting our finger strokes on this debate, but there is too much on the line not to write.

I must give some background on my position in order not to be pounced on without fully evaluating what I am saying. I hope that you can track with me. My position may be unpopular with some of the Christian crowd as well as some of the Rainbow crowd.

In western philisophy, there was a movement that became popular a couple of hundred years ago, by a fellow named David Hume who came up with what has become known as the fact/value dichotomy. This term is fancy lingo for dividing up TRUTH into objective and subjective categories. Objective truth being statements like 2+2=4, or the sky is blue. Subjective being statements like "I don't like the color blue". In the minds of many, TRUTH no longer became an integrated whole, but the sciences took up the Objective world, and Religion, morals, Arts took residence in the Subjective world. As the scientific revolution advanced, science became the 'real' world and religion was pawned off on the 'subjective' world becoming less 'real' and more 'feeling' oriented.

As the debate rages on these pages, I think it is important to recognize the dynamics that have resulted in this perceived 'split' of TRUTH into 'relative truth' (depending on the feelings of individuals-all viewpoints are equally valid) and 'scientific' truth.

At first glance, Augusta State has mirrored the 'scientific' position of the APA positioning its secular worldview in dominance over a Christian worldview. In this sense, the university is in effect adapting a 'state religion' (Secularism) marginalizing the so-called 'subjective' Christian worldview. In essence the university is claiming that it's Secular stance is valid and other religious stances (no matter what they are - are in fact irrelevant - and ultimately not true). This lawsuit has huge church-state implications.

I am not familiar with what I have read as 'aggressive indoctrination' being required of Ms Keeton. If, in fact, the university is requiring her to be a convert to Secularism, then the university is way out of line. If the university, is exposing her to elements within the homosexual lifestyle that she is likely to encounter, that is another. As a counselor, she should have the professional right when in practice to disclose her philosophy of counseling and give the option to the patient to move elsewhere if they so choose.

Many elements within Christianity (in a cultural sense) have done a poor job in reaching out to the homosexual community. For cultural Christianity really has little to offer. There is a lot of brokenness within this community. There is a lot of brokenness in the straight community as well. Christianity (in a Biblical sense) has much to offer both communities. I would recommend going to the XXXchurch.com website. Jesus loves the homosexual and the straight (both sinners).

In merely a fiscal sense, as a tax paying GA citizen, I am disgusted that dollars from the sweat of my brow (particularly this time of year!) are being used in matters of conscience against this student. I am just starting to understand the funding ramifications in the school's position. However, matters of belief should not be directed by the state. Christianity has at its core true freedom. The freedom of ideas is a guiding principle. Christian faith cannot be coerced. Even though historically, some have tried. But because of this understanding that Christian faith cannot be coerced. We have a wide variety of beliefs displayed in every community. Its not because they are all correct. The TRUTH cannot be forced. It is what it is. My fear, is now the state, my state, is dictating to others what is acceptable to believe and not believe and using my tax dollars to that end.

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