Keeton says she tried to bargain

Student's motives were questioned, documents claim

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The Augusta State University counseling graduate student who is suing the school because of an alleged free-speech violation was willing to undergo, and even signed, a remediation plan designed to increase her understanding of the homosexual community before retracting her agreement days later out of concerns she would be forced to abandon her biblical convictions about homosexuality.

Jennifer Keeton (left) shakes hands with Pam Tebow at the Augusta Care Pregnancy Center banquet, Oct. 26, 2010.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Jennifer Keeton (left) shakes hands with Pam Tebow at the Augusta Care Pregnancy Center banquet, Oct. 26, 2010.

In court documents filed Tuesday as a response to the school's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, attorneys for 24-year-old Jennifer Keeton describe her professors as adamant that Keeton could not complete her degree program unless she fundamentally changed her beliefs.

Keeton's account of the events leading up to her lawsuit against the school paints a picture of a faculty whose "core concern" was that she believed her biblical views were universal and not just personal preferences, which they said was unethical.

Keeton, on the other hand, was willing to undergo a remediation plan designed to increase her contact with homosexual communities -- telling them she had "determined that she could both maintain her biblical beliefs and affirm the dignity of her clients."

The faculty, specifically Dr. Paulette Schenck, openly questioned Keeton's sincerity, writes her attorney, Jeffrey A. Shafer, of the Alliance Defense Fund.

"Dr. Schenck responded by questioning her motives, suggesting that Miss Keeton was agreeing to participate in the Remediation Plan in order to stay in the ASU counseling program, not because she was committed to reconsidering her views on (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) matters," court documents say.

The documents show that both sides were close to reaching an understanding that would have skirted legal action, but which fell through after neither was willing to compromise.

Schafer argues that school officials' "highly partisan retelling" of the events surrounding the lawsuit in their motion to dismiss the case omits critical facts that show Keeton's rights were violated.

To defend their claim, Keeton and her attorney spend several pages detailing the events from Keeton's point of view. In them, they describe the school as formulating a remediation plan "designed to counter, undermine, and change (Keeton's) convictions" by having her attend workshops, readings and a scheduled Augusta Gay Pride parade in order to become more knowledgeable about the homosexual community.

In a June meeting about the plan -- the group's third -- Schafer writes that Keeton again told her professors that she "would not impose her beliefs on clients, but noted that she could not affirm homosexual conduct." She was then told by defendant Dr. Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley that it was not possible for her to both complete her degree and maintain her biblical convictions on homosexuality.

"She additionally urged Miss Keeton to not even attempt the Remediation Plan if she was not willing to affirm clients' homosexuality, and urged her to consider completing her degree at another school whose program is more consistent with her beliefs," Shafer wrote.

In an e-mail sent to the defendants after the meeting, Keeton writes that she would help her clients work toward their own goals, but she was not willing to affirm behavior that she thought was immoral, listing abortion and homosexuality as examples.

"I can't alter my biblical beliefs, and I will not affirm the morality of those behaviors in a counseling situation," she wrote.

Later, Shafer argues that the school's actions chilled Keeton's speech during a summer session psychology class.

Shafer said the class was holding a discussion on human sexuality and gender that conflicted with Keeton's views, but that she chose not to speak up in class because of the "unfavorable attention and consequences" that happened earlier.

In their motion filed in September, school officials said their intention was to only ask Keeton to "make certain her own beliefs and values do not interfere with her ability to counsel clients who do not share those same values," according to the filing.

Attorneys for the defendants filed a notice of intent Wednesday to reply to Keeton's filing.

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Fiat_Lux
16246
Points
Fiat_Lux 11/04/10 - 11:10 am
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You guys do realize, don't

You guys do realize, don't you, that this kind of smothering of independent thought and critical thinking is absolutely rampant at the vast majority of colleges and universities? By vast, I mean probably all public and secular private institutions, and even a daunting majority of religious institutions.

It's really no wonder our nation is turning into a moral cesspool. These benighted ASU professors are products of the "progressive" liberal brainwashing that was just turning on it taps back when I was in college in the early 70s. Since then, that polluted water has pour out over the sides of the tub and is flooding our home.

ruudvonbaron
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ruudvonbaron 11/04/10 - 11:11 am
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The sad thing here is that

The sad thing here is that Ms. Keeton, along with many of those leaving comments, actually believe that their personal religious beliefs should be endorsed above the American laws and professional codes of ethics that are in place for everyone. They will be bigots for life.

Not_Again
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Not_Again 11/04/10 - 11:10 am
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I don't believe Ms. Keeton

I don't believe Ms. Keeton was asked to "give up her religious faith." I believe she was simply told she could not impose said belief on her clients.

Fiat_Lux
16246
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Fiat_Lux 11/04/10 - 11:34 am
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She told them she would not

She told them she would not impose her beliefs. Schenck just refused to believe her.

And she was, in point of fact, told that she must have the confirmed belief that she should affirm homosexuals not just in their life goals, but specifically in their pursuit of the homosexual lifestyle itself. That demand is a direct violation of her held beliefs. It cannot be reasonably argued as anything other that a violation of her freedom to worship and believe as she chooses.

If you don't believe this, simply ask yourself how you would see things if these professors had required you to change your own mind about how to counsel homosexuals. Not only were you being prohibited from imposing or even sharing your belief that the gay lifestyle is perfectly natural and good, but you must now believe that yourself. And you will be required to counsel people struggling with their gender identity that homosexuality is pure evil.

Can you look at this from a different perspective than your own, at the underlying principles involved, or are you simply stuck in the rhetoric of the issue?

You really don't want this kind of discrimination happening to Keeton to be allowed. For it surely will turn again one day, and then you yourself might be on the receiving end.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 11/04/10 - 12:05 pm
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The insistance on Ms Keeton

The insistance on Ms Keeton becoming a hard core leftist so she could receive her degree is just plain stupid. My guess is that her professors are "gay choice" members and decided to crush a student who doesn't have the same perspective. Too bad they chose a woman with morals and backbone. Too bad they had to drag ASU into the mess with them. Stupid is as stupid does.

gaspringwater
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Points
gaspringwater 11/04/10 - 01:16 pm
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Fiat_Lux - I fail to see much

Fiat_Lux - I fail to see much complexity in this situation. Ms. Keeton, like everyone else should practice their religion unobtrusively and not bother other people with their beliefs. She tried to bargain she said. But a state owned university is a place of secular learning and not a bargain barn or a market bizarre peddling sheep skins. I suspect she's just an activist and that's OK but the taxpayer shouldn't be out of a nickel because of her religious beliefs.

Fiat_Lux
16246
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Fiat_Lux 11/04/10 - 01:52 pm
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Why should we have to

Why should we have to practice our faith "unobtrusively" and so as not to bother others? You certainly don't make that demand of people blasting away the profanity of hip hop in public, or lascivious dress and behavior in public places.

She is a citizen, entitled to an education, just like any other citizen, no matter what she or they believe. If forcing one's beliefs on another is considered a great evil, as you (and these stupid, tyrannical women) clearly believe, then what the heck are they doing trying to force theirs on her?

Kindly exercise a little balance and reason here, Gasp, even if it isn't likely to be exercised by the arrogant, overblown professors.

gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 11/04/10 - 02:43 pm
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Profanity is just a matter of

Profanity is just a matter of opinion and the world won't end if the public goes nudist. Yes the lady is entitled to a public education. And it's incumbent on her to meet the standards set by the collegiate accreditation agency just like every other student. Otherwise she's a flunk! I never thought about trying to bargain with my college professors and it's doubtful that would worked either.

The situation is kindly like a vegetarian medical student and he can't do the lab assignments because he has an aversion to cutting meat.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 11/04/10 - 02:55 pm
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"it's incumbent on her to

"it's incumbent on her to meet the standards set by the collegiate accreditation agency just like every other student"

That is correct. She might not agree, she might not like it, but she went into the program knowing the degree criteria. She must abide by it. It's the only way she'll get her diploma.

Once she's out she's free to do what she wants - as long as her employer will put up with it - but no public school will, she'll have to work at a private Chrisian school. And that's fine, sounds like she'd be happiest there.

She needs to just grin & bear it until she's done.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 11/04/10 - 02:56 pm
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I'm surprised that no private

I'm surprised that no private Christian University has stepped up to the plate to allow her the opportunity to finish her degree there with some sort of financial scholarship to help with the cost. Talk about super PR!

MajorPaul
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MajorPaul 11/04/10 - 03:55 pm
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Not Again, you mean a

Not Again, you mean a counselor can not tell a client it is wrong to have sex with kids? Or they can not mention it is wrong to kill people because you feel that urge once in a while?
Just what do you tell a client then when they are having problems with a certain behavior?

dougk
3
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dougk 11/04/10 - 03:57 pm
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What, again, does killing
Unpublished

What, again, does killing people and molesting kids have to do with homosexuality??

scoopdedoop64
2488
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scoopdedoop64 11/04/10 - 04:21 pm
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it's relevance has to do with

it's relevance has to do with the fact that their are moral absolutes which cannot be dismissed just in order to comply with this degree program. It's one thing to require a person to have more contact and understanding of homosexuals and totally another thing to demand that she change her beliefs. It she can prove that this is what ACS did then she should be able to win the suit. If she cannot then most certainly she shall lose.

Fiat_Lux
16246
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Fiat_Lux 11/04/10 - 05:12 pm
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The bottom line is that

The bottom line is that Schenck just decided that she didn't believe Keeton would embrace homosexuality so she's kicking her out. She doesn't have a right to do that, but she may get away with it. Keeton did what was required of her. They can't kick her out for not doing what they demanded. They kicked her out because of her religion and there's simply no way around it.

There's nothing new about hypocrisy in academia. This is just an illegal form of it, even if they get away with it.

bclicious
756
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bclicious 11/04/10 - 05:32 pm
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Again, I am not saying that

Again, I am not saying that Keeton was right, but if she knew about this ACA code of ethics going into the program, and she still chose to go into this line of work, that is just crazy. In no way, fashion, or form do I support homosexuality, but I also do not believe in joining an organization with the intent of violating its principles. This would be like me joining a gay rainbow pride group, and then stating that I was against gay rights. That would be stupid.

Moral of the story, do more research before you began a career in a field of work that you do not agree with.

yourpalal
0
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yourpalal 11/04/10 - 06:54 pm
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ASU,ie, Harvard on the Hill

ASU,ie, Harvard on the Hill IS a secular school. It is only concerned with taking its place among the elitist. Previous posts say she should attend a secular college. Did you liberal bedwetters get confused with what secularism is?
She is singled out because of the prejudice of christian views by the liberal establishment.Period.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 11/04/10 - 08:44 pm
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Douqk, re: your 4:57, seeking

Douqk, re: your 4:57, seeking counseling for a specific problem needs to be addressed by the councilor. Why the confusion?

dougk
3
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dougk 11/04/10 - 10:16 pm
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Johnston cliff....I don't
Unpublished

Johnston cliff....I don't understand your 9:44. I don't think I'm confused...except for how you can seem to be such an expert on counselors but can't spell it .

Abby-noll
0
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Abby-noll 11/04/10 - 10:50 pm
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The ACA does address the

The ACA does address the issue of imposing your personal beliefs on a client. ASU actually had a right to question the problems her beliefs might pose on her counseling others based on her previous statements. What I question is their insistence that she attend a Gay Pride parade and such. To me that was degrading to her and is a direct violation of her rights. They need to offer her a special class or something, but to force her to do something that intentionally goes directly against her beliefs is wrong. You could even suggest they are violating the ACA Code of Ethics themselves.

http://www.cacounseling.org/codeofethics.pdf
"A.4. Avoiding Harm and Imposing Values
A.4.a. Avoiding Harm

Counselors act to avoid harming their clients, trainees, and research participants and to minimize or to remedy unavoidable or unanticipated harm.

A.4.b. Personal Values
Counselors are aware of their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and avoid imposing values that are inconsistent with counseling goals. Counselors respect the diversity of clients, trainees, and research participants.

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