Court OK’s Ga. College Expelling Counseling Student for Anti-Gay Views
A judge has ruled that a college in Georgia had the right to punish a student believed that she could express her anti-gay views in her counseling career, Patheos.com reported.
In November 2011 the Associated Press reported that Jennifer Keeton, a graduate school counseling student at Augusta State University, said her First Amendment rights was violated when the school’s officials punished her for her views on gay rights.
Keeton told her fellow classmates that she wanted to practice conversion therapy, a controversial therapy (that has been debunked) where a therapist attempts to turn a gay person straight.
The college’s officials said it would be difficult for Keeton to work with gay clients and threatened to expel her if she did not attend LGBT friendly events, such as Augusta’s gay pride parade. They were also worried that the student would practice conversion therapy on middle and high school students she was scheduled to meet with as part of her degree program.
After the school decided to expel her in 2010, Keeton filed a federal lawsuit against the school and said that the college wanted to get rid of her because she "holds Christian ethical convictions" on human sexuality and gender identity, AP notes.
Jude J. Randall Hall ruled in favor of the school had not violated the student’s rights, however.
"Keeton’s conflation of personal and professional values, or at least her difficulty in discerning the difference, appears to have been rooted in her opinion that the immorality of homosexual relations is a matter of objective and absolute moral truth," Hall said. "The policies which govern the ethical conduct of counselors, however, with their focus on client welfare and self-determination, make clear that the counselor’s professional environs are not intended to be a crucible for counselors to test metaphysical or moral propositions."
Hall dismissed all of Keeton’s claims and said, "when someone voluntarily chooses to enter a profession, he or she must comply with its rules and ethical requirements."
A similar incident occurred when Julea Ward, a counseling student from Eastern Michigan University, was expelled for refusing to treat gay and lesbian patients. Like Keeton, Ward claims that the school restricted her First Amendment rights as she was dismissed from her counseling program because of her views on gays. In January Ward was allowed to take her case before a federal court jury in Detroit.
"I had never refused to counsel homosexuals, I had simply refused to affirm their lifestyle," Ward says in a YouTube video.