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Judge rejects Keeton lawsuit

ASU requirements deemed 'legitimate'

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Augusta State University's requirement that a graduate student read material about counseling gays and increase her exposure to that community after she objected to counseling homosexual clients was "academically legitimate," a federal court judge ruled Friday.

Jennifer Keeton
Jennifer Keeton

U.S. District Judge Randal Hall's decision enables university officials to expel Jennifer Keeton if she does not follow the remediation plan, which professors designed to "address issues of multicultural competence and develop understanding and empathy."

Hall said the case is not about "pitting Christianity against homosexuality," but rather the constitutionality of the school's requirement.

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 filed a lawsuit against the school in July, alleging the requirement was viewpoint discrimination and a violation of her First Amendment rights.

Hall ruled that Keeton "failed to clearly establish her high burden of persuasion of a 'substantial likelihood' of success of the merits of her case."

She provided no evidence that ASU faculty imposed the remediation plan because they personally disagreed with her views, Hall said.

In an Aug. 11 hearing, ASU professors testified that the plan was not a punishment for voicing her beliefs, but a tool to teach Keeton how to counsel clients while not imposing her views.

"All three professors testified that they never told (Keeton) that she was required to change her religious beliefs in order to stay in the counseling program," Hall wrote.

He noted that Keeton did not testify at the hearing nor present any witnesses in support of her motion.

Hall said Keeton's unwillingness to adhere to the school's viewpoint-neutral code of ethics set by the American Counseling Association constitutes a refusal to complete the curriculum.

Without completing the remediation plan, Keeton was unable to begin classes at the college as part of a practicum. A filing by her lawyers earlier this week said she had begun the work at Augusta Christian School.

Hall ruled the plan was simply a way to teach Keeton how to counsel all demographics of clients.

"It was not (Keeton's) personal beliefs that were their concern, but rather only her inability to separate her personal beliefs in the judgment-free zone of a professional counseling situation," Hall said.

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momma mia
2
Points
momma mia 08/20/10 - 05:30 pm
0
0
Good for the judge. Someone

Good for the judge. Someone with such prejudices should NOT be a counselor.

Jake
32530
Points
Jake 08/20/10 - 05:37 pm
0
0
No surprise here. I wanted to

No surprise here. I wanted to be a massage therapist but only for strippers and other women I judged to be worthy. How long do you think I would stay in business?

hardtobelieve
1
Points
hardtobelieve 08/20/10 - 05:39 pm
0
0
I am so glad that the judge

I am so glad that the judge stated that this is not a case of Christianity vs. homosexuality. Now if only others can see that.

andrew412
0
Points
andrew412 08/20/10 - 05:41 pm
0
0
...and then the clock

...and then the clock ticked... your 15 minutes are up, Ms. Keeton! now get back to class.

Nightwing
0
Points
Nightwing 08/20/10 - 05:42 pm
0
0
Either comply with the progam

Either comply with the progam or change majors.

Baron_Von_Retch
0
Points
Baron_Von_Retch 08/20/10 - 05:44 pm
0
0
Fine, Judge Hall. If she must

Fine, Judge Hall. If she must endure remediation, then every last one of the students must do the same thing, to ensure that they will be able to adequately counsel those who are Christian and want to be counseled based on Christian standards for morality and behavior.

Can't have it both ways, "Judge". If she is required to be sympathetic and to express support for a lifestyle to which she has moral objections, then those "professors" must be sympathetic and supportive regarding lifestyles to which they also have moral objections.

She does, in fact, have a Constitutional right to hold and express her religious beliefs, and she has a Constitutional right to pursue any course of study for which she is intellectually and financially able to pursue. Since when did the APA or ASU become the organizations that decide what people are and are not allowed to believe and express?

The arrogance of today's academics is beyond belief, right up there with the arrogance of the judiciary. God help us all.

Baron_Von_Retch
0
Points
Baron_Von_Retch 08/20/10 - 05:48 pm
0
0
I feel quite certain there

I feel quite certain there will be great rejoicing among those who are so enthralled with the downward slide of our civilization. It's like hyenas around a carcass.

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 08/20/10 - 05:49 pm
0
0
Good ruling.
Unpublished

Good ruling.

Fiat_Lux
15420
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/20/10 - 05:55 pm
0
0
Momma, absolutely! Can't have

Momma, absolutely! Can't have anyone telling anyone anything of any importance that might help them in any way if it might offend anybody or make anybody think twice about any of their choices. God forbid anyone ever has someone tell them something they don't want to hear! Oh, my, no!

I guess we need to make sure the only people who get to counsel or advise others have the same valueless standards as you. I mean, who needs standards or morals if such things can be picked or discarded simply by popular vote or consensus.

hardtobelieve
1
Points
hardtobelieve 08/20/10 - 05:56 pm
0
0
She can hold her beliefs

She can hold her beliefs without imposing them on the students she would counsel.

Fiat_Lux
15420
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/20/10 - 06:09 pm
0
0
Hardtobelieve, apparently ASU

Hardtobelieve, apparently ASU doesn't believe she can. She has to convince the faculty members that she no longer believes homosexual sex practices are immoral. It's not enough to be able to give them good counsel on their difficulties, she must encourage them in their lifestyle.

So, what if she goes through their ridiculous remediation and still comes out Christian and believing that homosexuality does not conform to the normal design for human beings? What will they do then, if she doesn't simply regurgitate the stupid nonsense they want to hear? Keep all the money she's pumped into their coffers and tell her to get lost?

This will not result in good things for that department, although it certainly might start attracting a lot of interest from the very people Jen Keeton would rather not be counseling. Won't that be nice.

So crates
0
Points
So crates 08/20/10 - 06:14 pm
0
0
It was the mascara, in the

It was the mascara, in the end. No sane judge could look at that eye makeup and think this woman was sincere.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 08/20/10 - 06:21 pm
0
0
Once again homosexuality

Once again homosexuality trumps Christianity. Aren't we proud. Ms Keeton will have to either lie her way through the remediation or lose all she's invested in her masters degree. There is no other choice.

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 08/20/10 - 06:23 pm
0
0
She is required to attend 3

She is required to attend 3 workshops and do some outside reading on gays....that she probably could handle. Increase her exposure and interaction with the gay community and report of these.....that's pretty difficult. Say she does step two and has the same views, that homosexuality is wrong and writes her reports stating the same? Then she has to write 2 page reflections that summaries what she learned from her research and how her study has influenced her beliefs....This is the part I have a problem with. ASU keeps saying they are not trying to change her religious beliefs but here one of the steps requires her to write papers saying how if influences her beliefs.....DUH! If you're not trying to change her beliefs...then why write a paper on how it has influenced your belief?

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 08/20/10 - 06:26 pm
0
0
I agree

I agree johnston.cliff......her only option is to tell the staff she'll keep her personal views to herself and if she encounters a homosexual student, stick to the old "and what do you think about it" statement.

So crates
0
Points
So crates 08/20/10 - 06:30 pm
0
0
Fiat, one of my favorite

Fiat, one of my favorite professors in my counseling program often made the statement that as a counselor she just did what any good christian would. She said this numerous times in many ways and neither I nor anyone else ever blinked once. Her truth is her truth and we all respected that. However, she never once made any reference to the bible beyond positive affirmations about where she was coming from. Counseling does not exclude christianity. It simply cannot permit exclusive christianity, or, in better terms, a christianity that marginalizes others. This is simply contradictory to the goals of the profession. If Ms. Keeton wants to offer lips service to this and finish her program more power to her, but she would be violating those principles she claims to so endorse. What is sin, afterall?

The unfortunate thing here is that this poor girl was taken advantage of by a politically motivated religious group. This truly saddens me because it is so rife with the smell of ignorance and evil. For making such a stink, she will likely never work in the field she pursued at the level she desires. Her litigious handlers will drop her and move on to the next victim.

j2says
3
Points
j2says 08/20/10 - 06:35 pm
0
0
Homosexuality is not

Homosexuality is not triumphing over Christianity. At ASU, the degree requirements warrant she be able to counsel all people from all walks of life. She chose the school and if this was a problem for her she should have went to a private Christian institution that was more in line with her views. Do you know how many Christians have graduated from the same program? I'm sure hundreds, she's not special.

ron_rlw
1
Points
ron_rlw 08/20/10 - 06:42 pm
0
0
says ... interesting ... the

says ... interesting ... the judge has said that if your not politically correct you can't get a counselling degree at ASU. But what happens if the politically correctness swings the other way ... do we then apply the same standards to those that support Homosexuals? Or did the judge just say that counsels should support any and all actions no matter what?

scoopdedoop64
2366
Points
scoopdedoop64 08/20/10 - 06:46 pm
0
0
I am so glad this over! At

I am so glad this over! At least for now because people have been so ugly debating about it all. Only the Lord knows whether her cause was just or not and whether she has followed His leading or her own. But I do know this, that in this world we are going to face persecution because Jesus did. No where in the Bible are we told to whine about it or sue our persecutors. It is not about our "rights" but His kindgom. As Christians we give up our all to follow Christ regardless of the cost. One thing we must remember is that Jesus told us to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. That means that in the end we win. This is not the end but just the battle and it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. So stay strong in the Lord to all my brothers and sisters in Christ and let us pray for our President to follow Christ in word and deed that all may go well for all of us.

littlemissunshine
0
Points
littlemissunshine 08/20/10 - 06:55 pm
0
0
Glad it's over! She shouldn't

Glad it's over! She shouldn't be going to school to be a counselor in the first place if she can't accept them. Dumb girl.

srd0901
0
Points
srd0901 08/20/10 - 06:56 pm
0
0
She wants to counsel students

She wants to counsel students in a public school setting. Children from all walks of life go to public schools and need counseling on occasion. If she is unable to demonstrate that she will give unbiased advice to a certain segment of the the population then she should not graduate the program. The course expectations were made clear to her at the beginning. She knew what was expected of her. What if she had stated that she had a fundamental issue with African Americans? Would some of you be so quick to support her? Would ASU suggest the same type of remediation in that case?

The judge even said it's not Christianity vs. homosexuality. This is specifically a case where a student is not showing full ability to perform her chosen career path to the optimum level. If she is a devout Christian, and has issues with a certain population, then she should go to a Christian school and seek employment in a Christian school. Dealing with the real world (i.e. ALL people of ALL backgrounds) is obviously beyond her capabilities.

strugglingcollegestudent
0
Points
strugglingcollegestudent 08/20/10 - 07:05 pm
0
0
So if i'm atheist, agnostic,

So if i'm atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist, and I was to have a situation where I needed Miss Keeton's guidance and advice... and she was to say I needed Jesus Christ and God in my life... how am I to react? Gotta love the Bible Belt. Try thinking outside of the box, and be more understanding that other people outside of your pathetic understanding of other people are not Christians and are not heterosexual.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 08/20/10 - 07:21 pm
0
0
I believe homosexuals are the
Unpublished

I believe homosexuals are the ones in dire need of remediation and quite soon.

strugglingcollegestudent
0
Points
strugglingcollegestudent 08/20/10 - 07:24 pm
0
0
rmwhitley... that is where

rmwhitley... that is where you are wrong! you fit the stereotype I JUST described! get out from under your rock and see that not everyone is CHRISTIAN! ASU having ignorance... no..... Southern Christians having ignorance... yes!

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 08/20/10 - 07:31 pm
0
0
strugglingcollegestudent, are

strugglingcollegestudent, are you saying only Christians think homosexuality is wrong? Are you sure they're aren't some atheist, or Muslims, or maybe even an agnostic or two out there that think homoseuxuality is wrong?

If rmwhitley has the opinion that homosexuals need remediation, who are you to say he/she is wrong. You might not agree but to rmwhitley he is right because it is his/her opinion.

Maybe you need to get out from under the rock and realize that it's not just Southern Christians who feel homosexuality is wrong. Heck it's not just Christians, many non-religious individuals have the same view.

Jake
32530
Points
Jake 08/20/10 - 07:35 pm
0
0
I will go out on a limb and

I will go out on a limb and invite Ms Keeton to come and stay at our house here in the Bay Area. We will take her to the Castro district of SF and if she can stomach that then she will do fine as a counselor. I guess that would be "shock treatment". My wife has some gay friends and they could also come over for dinner and we would provide latex gloves for everyone so as not to get anyone contaminated with who knows what. Has anyone shaken hands with a homosexual or lesbian? No telling what vile thing they have touched, unlike us heterosexuals who are so wholesome.

strugglingcollegestudent
0
Points
strugglingcollegestudent 08/20/10 - 07:37 pm
0
0
You don't hear the other

You don't hear the other minorities (because that is what they are, here in the South of course) imposing their beliefs on them, do you? I certainly don't. And you are right, people are entitled to opinions, and I now realize I was at fault for saying they are wrong. It is just frustrating that people are so closed minded, and fast to judge that another's lifestyle is wrong. So what, the individual is homosexual. Who is the person in focus to say that another individual's lifestyle is wrong?

scoopdedoop64
2366
Points
scoopdedoop64 08/20/10 - 07:43 pm
0
0
Think about this for a

Think about this for a moment. Is one person's opinion more authoritative than another? If so, what makes one person's or a group's for that matter more authoritative? I am not saying more important or valueable because I believe that everyone is a precious human soul and worthy to be valued as well as their opinion. But without name calling what makes one opinion more authoritative? This is just for discussion.

sjgraci
2
Points
sjgraci 08/20/10 - 07:44 pm
0
0
Like this was a surprise. The

Like this was a surprise. The more she pursues this in and out of court, the more she is going to lose.

strugglingcollegestudent
0
Points
strugglingcollegestudent 08/20/10 - 07:46 pm
0
0
There is no authority, but

There is no authority, but telling someone that they are not going to be accepted by God, or any other god for that matter, because of their beliefs is in my "opinion" disrespectful and insulting.

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