Judge tosses suit similar to ASU case

Homosexuality, personal beliefs arose in Michigan student case

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 11:52 PM
Last updated Thursday, July 29, 2010 1:35 PM
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A federal judge dismissed a case this week with striking similarities to one filed by an Augusta State University student who claims discrimination because of her biblical beliefs.

Augusta State University graduate student Jennifer Keeton has filed a lawsuit against the university.  File
File
Augusta State University graduate student Jennifer Keeton has filed a lawsuit against the university.

The Augusta case was filed last Wednesday by graduate student Jennifer Keeton, 24, who contends her professors want her to a undergo a remediation plan because of her Christian convictions.

Specifically, Keeton has expressed her views both during and outside class that gays, lesbians and transgender people suffer "identity confusion."

In a similar incident last year, an Eastern Michigan University student working toward her master's degree was criticized by her professors for her opinions on homosexuality, according to the Alliance Defense Fund, a faith-based coalition of lawyers.

The student, Julea Ward, came under scrutiny during practicum sessions when she referred a potential client to another counselor. Ward said she could not go against her values and affirm the client's same-sex relationship, said attorney David French, who represents both Ward and Keeton.

Ward was taken before a panel of her professors who challenged her beliefs within the master's program, French said.

In a 48-page decision Monday, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh dismissed Ward's lawsuit, saying essentially that Ward was treated poorly but not censored.

"The university had a rational basis for requiring its students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values," Steeh wrote in his opinion. "In the case of Ms. Ward, the university determined that she would never change her behavior and would consistently refuse to counsel clients on matters with which she was personally opposed due to her religious beliefs -- including homosexual relationships."

French said there are similarities between the two cases, but also significant differences. The dismissal of the Ward case, which will be appealed, does not set a precedent nor doom the success of the lawsuit in Augusta, the attorney said.

Mike Brown, a discrimination and employment lawyer in Augusta, agreed with that assessment.

"These could be very different cases," Brown said.

As in the past, ASU refused to comment directly on pending litigation. Spokeswoman Kathy Schofe instead released a general statement Tuesday outlining the University System of Georgia's policy on students' beliefs.

It states in part: "No student is asked to change their religious beliefs or views in order to participate in any program."

Further questions were referred to the state attorney general's office.

The Ward case at Eastern Michigan University started shortly after she enrolled in the counseling program. Her professors openly mocked her beliefs and called her a "homophobe" when she expressed her view that homosexuality is wrong, according to the Alliance Defense Fund.

The tension peaked when Ward was preparing for a practice counseling session and noticed in the folder that the client needed affirmation of a homosexual relationship. Ward knew she could not provide that support so she followed the advice of her professors and classroom teaching and referred the client to another counselor, according to the fund.

This so-called value-based conflict is common in counseling, similar to a conflict of interest for an attorney. French, the attorney, said it's better for both people in the session because the client gets a sympathetic ear.

French said the Augusta case is different because Keeton has not even reached that level of the program. He said Keeton's professors worked up a remediation plan because of Keeton's comments both in and outside class about homosexuality.

"There's a presumption about how she will treat clients," French said.

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sjgraci
2
Points
sjgraci 07/28/10 - 11:56 pm
0
0
Keeton's case is going

Keeton's case is going nowhere either. Her bogus argument is no different than a religious zealot proclaiming 2+2=5 to their math professors because their God told them so. Ain't going to fly in court. Welcome to the secular world. And, thank God for it.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 07/29/10 - 04:47 am
0
0
Wow, an opinion piece in the

Wow, an opinion piece in the news section, and it's slanted way to the left. I hope all of the posters that whine that the AC is right wing take note.
I think the only line that comes close to making any sense in this opinion piece is "French said there are similarities between the two cases, but also significant differences. " I think that covers all of the bases. The Michigan case is the same but different.
Keeton was ordered into remediation courses and brain washing experiences to purge her of her religious beliefs .... to hear Keeton tell it.
ASU claims they train everyone willing to pay .... to hear them tell it.
This opinion piece takes a side and supports it with the "false facts" usually found in far left papers.
The court will hear both sides and decide.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/29/10 - 05:08 am
0
0
I commend Augusta Chronicle

I commend Augusta Chronicle staff writer Kyle Martin for writing this relevant news story, and I comment Augusta Chronicle editors for choosing to run this objective report. It would have been easy to bury this piece if the judge's decision is not in line with The Augusta Chronicle editorial board's opinion on this matter.

freeradical
1176
Points
freeradical 07/29/10 - 05:12 am
0
0
In all fairness,the

In all fairness,the disproportionate fanatical obession of academia

with the mental state of those engaged in the homosexual lifestyle ( less

than 8% of the population ) above all else is not without basis.

From the starting gate the homosexual participents abdication of

personal responsibility, " It's not my fault, I was born this way" speaks

to the perpetual abdication of personal

responsibiliy to follow, & the desired clamoring for the "affirmation"

inherent in such perpetual abdication of personal responsibility, and all

the associated complexes and hangups associated.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/29/10 - 05:14 am
0
0
johnston.cliff, would you

johnston.cliff, would you support a Muslim graduate student's right to follow Islamic religious directives while serving in the position of school counselor? What about an atheist counselor who believes any mention of God amounts to infantile "magical thinking" at best or mental illness at worse? Do they have the right to impose their personal values on students seeking counseling?

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/29/10 - 06:26 am
0
0
Homosexuals have been

Homosexuals have been persecuted throughout history, yet the prevalence of same sex sexual orientation remains constant at something near 10% of the population. Clearly there are biological reasons for this constancy which is independent of societies' persecution or toleration.

It is worth noting that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality a single time in the New Testament. Paul did but Jesus did not.

Clearly the vast majority or homosexuals do not choose their sexual orientation. The American Psychiatric Association no longer describes homosexuality as a mental illness. It is the natural state for roughly 10% of the population. Homosexuality does not positively correlate with pedophilia. Homosexuals are not criminals, and they are entitled to the same civil liberties as heterosexuals. Finally homosexuals are not morally weak nor does their self awareness constitute an abdication of personal responsibility as freeradical falsely claims.

Dixieman
17423
Points
Dixieman 07/29/10 - 05:45 am
0
0
C'mon, need more Keeton

C'mon, need more Keeton photos! She is hot!

Marlene
0
Points
Marlene 07/29/10 - 06:12 am
0
0
FR -- It's sad you still have

FR -- It's sad you still have this delusion that all LGBT people have some sort of disease and are continually unhappy. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I and I can bet 99.9% of all LGBT folk frown on the hedonistic acts of some in the LGBT community. Anything and everything has been abused at some point, my dear ignorant one: alcohol, drugs, video games, sex, but most of all religion!

The abuse of religion has been the cause of most of the wars in history, not to mention the genocide of entire populations, especially here in the Americas!

Try listening to us, my dear instead of shoving your head in a book and believing that the mores and beliefs of the Bronze Age are valid in the 21st century!

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 07/29/10 - 06:24 am
0
0
Cain, if a qualified person

Cain, if a qualified person is hired as a counselor and acts as a counselor to the improvement of the one choosing to seek counseling, then yes, the height, weight, color and dress of the counselor is irrelevant. Why would I or anyone object?

Carleton Duvall
6308
Points
Carleton Duvall 07/29/10 - 06:24 am
0
0
WOW!! The sky is going to

WOW!! The sky is going to fall. I agree with Cain.

justus4
113
Points
justus4 07/29/10 - 06:28 am
0
0
The student will NEVER prove
Unpublished

The student will NEVER prove discrimination against an institution of high learning. She is just wasting somebody's money, but then again, there may be a book deal down the road.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 07/29/10 - 06:31 am
0
0
Cain, your opinion posted at

Cain, your opinion posted at 6:29 lacks facts, by exclusion, and is just a social opinion. Right now, claiming to be a "friend of gays" in every way is popular. This in no way proves that gays do not choose their lifestyle.
The fact that some straights decide to become gay and some gays decide to become straight DOES indicate (pretty strongly) that the lifestyle is a choice.

Dang it, when an update or correction is made, the time signature is changed so the post referenced is no longer identifiable.

Little Lamb
49097
Points
Little Lamb 07/29/10 - 06:47 am
0
0
Maybe Keeton can star in a

Maybe Keeton can star in a Lifetime movie about her own story.

jiclemens
0
Points
jiclemens 07/29/10 - 06:58 am
0
0
"star in a Lifetime movie" as

"star in a Lifetime movie"
as a comedy maybe. Only Fox would pick up and whale about this drivel.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 07/29/10 - 07:01 am
0
0
Cain posted " Do they have

Cain posted " Do they have the right to impose their personal values on students seeking counseling?"

Ms. Keeton hasn't had the opportunity to impose her values on students seeking counseling, so we don't know how she would handle it.

As for Ms. Ward "The tension peaked when Ward was preparing for a practice counseling session and noticed in the folder that the client needed affirmation of a homosexual relationship. Ward knew she could not provide that support so she followed the advice of her professors and classroom teaching and referred the client to another counselor, according to the fund."

Seems to me she did the right thing by referring the client to another counselor and evidently the school was trying to make a point when they gave her the client that was a homosexual and was seeking affirmation that homsexuality was okay, knowing full well of Ms. Ward's religious beliefs and could not affirm this client.

What really disturbs me is this statement "...Her professors openly mocked her beliefs and called her a "homophobe" when she expressed her view that homosexuality is wrong" Is this not discrimination?

Marlene
0
Points
Marlene 07/29/10 - 07:17 am
0
0
Cliff -- Your claims of

Cliff -- Your claims of "choice" are spurious and are about as valid as claiming that Neptune is the closest planet to the sun.

What you see as a straight person "choosing" to be gay can have two variations: 1) The person's bisexual (yes there are humans who're attracted to both genders!) or 2) The person was never straight to begin with, and was *forced* to be straight due to familial and/or social pressures.

A similar explanation can be said for the lesbian/gay person as well, other than 2) Forcing a lesbian or gay person to act straight due to familial and/or societal pressure!

There's NEVER been a legitimate case of sexual orientation being changed! What's changed is *behavior*, akin to dyeing your hair or wearing colored contacts. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to you... period!

afadel
547
Points
afadel 07/29/10 - 07:30 am
0
0
Re: Johnston.Cliff at 5:47

Re: Johnston.Cliff at 5:47 AM

Wow, an opinion piece in the news section, and it's slanted way to the left. I hope all of the posters that whine that the AC is right wing take note.

I had asked Mike Wynn, an award-winning journalist at the AC, how could the AC news publish some very hard-hitting, factual (i.e. what many people on these comment boards would be calling "leftist") pieces like the one on the privatization of the criminal bond system while maintaining such a right-wing editorial page. He told me that the AC makes a great effort to separate the news department from the editorial department. So kudos to the AC for maintaining the integrity of the news department.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 07/29/10 - 07:34 am
0
0
You hit the nail on the head,

You hit the nail on the head, InChristLove...!!!

sconservative
72
Points
sconservative 07/29/10 - 07:50 am
0
0
Ward was correct to recuse

Ward was correct to recuse herself from the homosexual client. The open mocking of her beliefs and calling her a "homophobe" is troubling. Any professor that does that should be fired - tenure or not!

genbartow
0
Points
genbartow 07/29/10 - 07:53 am
0
0
What good is a doctor that

What good is a doctor that won't tell the patient that he is sick.
Ms Keeton obviously does not want to just "cooperate and graduate" but rather have a meaningful impact to improve her patients lives.
And the Universities are not interested in truth, that is why political correctness was born. Truth would expose the lies of abortion, big fat-cat government, homosexuality being anything other than deviant and basically that all cultures and religions are the same. They say it doesn't matter what you believe, just believe.
And the most educated among us are the biggest fools...

edreformfan
0
Points
edreformfan 07/29/10 - 07:55 am
0
0
Once again, This story isn't

Once again,
This story isn't about whether or not being gay is a "choice," it's about (if the facts are true) a University telling a student that her personal beliefs must be left at the door during classroom discussion. She has unpopular beliefs about a sensitive subject and if the University is requiring her to take remedial classes (that other students do not have to take), it is akin to censorship. [I know the University hasn't told it's full side of the story yet, so I'm using "if"].

Counselors across the country have "personal bias" for many issues, and part of being professional is knowing when you can ignore such bias and when you cannot. The ability to refer clients to another counselor seems a more than adequate method for handling situations where a counselor could be motivated by personal bias. Expressing a belief that homosexuality is "identity confusion" in a classroom setting should not preclude the receipt of a degree from the university or result in the requirement of additional training. Expressing that belief in the presence of a client is an entirely different matter.

Finally, if the "remedial course" must be taken by all students in the program to graduate, she should deal with it. If the professor merely suggested she take the extra course, she should deal with it.

Big_vike
1
Points
Big_vike 07/29/10 - 08:13 am
0
0
InChristLove, that's why it

InChristLove, that's why it was judged that she was treated poorly but not discriminated against. Look, its great that they both have their views, but unfortunately for them, they are the ones one that have to adapt to society, not the other way around. Highly religious people (in my opinion/experience) always forget that just because they believe something, no matter how strongly, doesn't make it real to the rest of us. The constant hystoronics on how your being infringed upon fall on deaf ears because the majority of us were raised that you don't always get what you want, and you have to play nice with others, including the Black, Mexican, Asian and GAY kids, or else you stay home and play in your own sandbox (head fully inserted I would guess). Don't go to a restaraunt if you don't like the food they serve, don't go to a water park if you don't like to swim, and don't go to a PUBLIC university, paid for by PUBLIC taxes, if you can't shelve your PERSONAL views. There are private institutions that she could attend that fully accept her intolerance of homosexuals, and that's why they don't provide professional certification for which she is attending ASU. The rules are simple, if you can't follow the rules you don't get to play, its true in all walks of life. Christians see the bible as the end all be all truth, to many of us its just a book, you see a church as a sanctuary, many of us see it as a tax write off. Worship how you want to, as much as you want to, if you believe? Good for you, but you don't have the right to take your beliefs out of that church and impress them upon society as a whole, just as I don't have the right to enter your church and impress my views on your congregation. I have learned this, I accept this. I have no problems with any christians point of view, until it is forced upon me. I wish the ultra christians felt the same way but sadly, tolerance is not their strong suit.

john
1212
Points
john 07/29/10 - 08:12 am
0
0
This seems similar to doctors

This seems similar to doctors that opt out of performing abortions. If she felt uncomfortable counseling a gay person, she recused herself, whats the problem? Seems choice only applies to certain people. You can choose to be gay, but you cant choose to not accept it. You can choose to terminate a pregnancy, but you cant choose to not perform an abortion. you can choose to get your face tatood and pierced, but you cant choose not to hire them. And im talking about perspective, not law, but that will be changing soon Im sure.

perplexed
0
Points
perplexed 07/29/10 - 08:23 am
0
0
I find it interesting that

I find it interesting that the percentage of homosexuals in the human population is being touted by some above as being 8-10% of the population. These were being given by during the initial beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 80's by pro-gay advocates and their associated organizations. Prior to the epidemic the consistent % numbers were in 1-2.5 % of the population if you included transgenders and bisexuals.
. That is well documented. ? How does one arrive at the 8%-10%. In the United States that you equate to over approx. 30 MILLION PEOPLE!!!! How is it quantified by group?, incidence of activity? etc.) now being presented? Are teenage exploration activities being added into that number to elevate the %? Why the meteoric jump in % since the early 80's? Is there something in the water? No one doubts that homosexual population exist but the numbers being given seem to defy logic. By the way, I have a nephew who is a homosexual and we all love and care for him very much less I be declared a homophobe! The percentages of, is where my problem lies.

edreformfan
0
Points
edreformfan 07/29/10 - 08:27 am
0
0
Big_Vike, how is expressing a

Big_Vike, how is expressing a view about homosexuality during classroom discussion about homosexuality "forcing" it on anyone? To you, if someone expresses an "unpopular" viewpoint, it is "forcing" a belief, but if you share your "mainstream" opinion, this is ok. That's hypocrisy. This would be a different story if the student had said this to one of her clients.

genbartow
0
Points
genbartow 07/29/10 - 08:34 am
0
0
big vike, where does this

big vike, where does this "don't go to a public university paid for by public taxes if you can't shelve your personal views" come from?
Anywhere I go in America I can express my personal views especially at a "public" university paid for with my taxes and fees.
Who should be "shelving their personal views", Christians only ? Is that what you are saying ?

Aura68
0
Points
Aura68 07/29/10 - 08:52 am
0
0
Why is it so hard for people

Why is it so hard for people to get that opting out of counseling a gay student may not be an option for this girl. This is the 4th article that references this story. There have been plenty of counselors that have weighed in on the different stories and their message has been consistant. Because of budget restraints the school may only have one counselor at any given time. The option to refer out may not exist. Then what???

The standards that have been set forth by the ASCA were not set forth to be biased towards anyones religious views. They were set forth to provide counselors with the best set of questions and answers possible. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in our teenagers today. A child's life may literally hang in the balance by the time they reach out for help. It amazes me how many people can not see this is the real issue.

The school that issues her accreditation is responsible for giving her the best basis they can before she goes out into the real world to practice. This girl's statements and actions have proven to the professors at ASU that she will be unable to set aside her biased and provide the services required as a professional counselor. She is not the first nor the last Christian to be enrolled in this program with strong views. Others have graduated and she could to if she would complete the required course work, but she refuses to do so. And because of this we should believe she has been dealt some injustice - I think not.

belle
311
Points
belle 07/29/10 - 08:53 am
0
0
This entire story is still
Unpublished

This entire story is still too vague to pass judgement on but I thought the college was accused of not allowing her to complete the program and receive her diploma because of her beliefs. If that is so, then I don't understand how it is the college's place to take any action. If they educate her and she completes the same curriculum as all other graduates of her major it would be a state licensing board that would decide if she qualifies to treat patients. Comments?

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 07/29/10 - 08:58 am
0
0
freeradicalThursday, Jul. 29

freeradicalThursday, Jul. 29 6:12 AM In all fairness,the disproportionate fanatical obession of academia

with the mental state of those engaged in the BLACK lifestyle ( less

than 17% of the population ) above all else is not without basis.

From the starting gate the BLACK participents abdication of

personal responsibility, " It's not my fault, I was born this way" speaks

to the perpetual abdication of personal

responsibiliy to follow, & the desired clamoring for the "affirmation"

inherent in such perpetual abdication of personal responsibility, and all

the associated complexes and hangups associated.
-----------------------------
I fixed your post.

Academia has slowly pulled mankind from the death grip of oppressive, bigoted, hateful, discriminatory religious zealots.

Big_vike
1
Points
Big_vike 07/29/10 - 09:04 am
0
0
The point here is she is

The point here is she is seeking a national accredited certification for which you have to be professionaly qualified, to counsel all persons regardless of your personal viewpoints is part of this degree/certification. You don't get it both ways, you either choke down you personal views to accomplish your daily job or you go work somewhere that you can express them freely. Most of us have learned that. I deal with people/tasks that I don't care for on a daily basis, I accept this. I understood that part of academia is a more "liberal" viewpoint, and even though I disagreed socially with many of my professors, I expressed my opinion, they expressed theirs, we had a discussion and moved on. If I changed their minds good for me, if they changed my mind good for them. I never once demanded that the University of Maryland change their standards to accept my viewpoint and neither can one of these ladies. If you want an accredited degree you play by the Universities rules, or else the University loses its ability to issue degree's and certifications, end of story.

genbartow I got an idea for you, go to work today, tell your boss you hate "insert race, creed, religion here" see how far that gets you. You check your opinions at the door of many institutions on a daily basis, and not just christians, all persons, Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Whites, Asians etc, you check your bias's at the door or you don't perform as an integral part of society, its called deviance. Didn't anyone ever say No to these people? Your either part of society or your not. Where is the ambiguity in that statement? Society includes all races, all religions, all "lifestyle" choices, if you don't like that, and you feel so strongly about it, then I suggest you put your money where your mouth is and confront every person with beliefs you don't like, I bet you don't, because you know, as do I, that acceptance of others, not agreeance with, is what it takes to be a working member of society. You don't have to like everyone, but you have to DEAL with everyone. If you have to pray to do this, fine. If you have to go for a long walk, fine. If you have to go home and drink a bottle of wine, fine. Just don't expect that I am going to change my behavior because of your beliefs, and I will do the same for you.

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