Monday, March 19, 2018

Christian Student Sues to Stay in Counseling Program

August 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles, World News


When officials at Georgia’s Augusta State University told counseling student Jennifer Keeton they were concerned her outspoken Christian views might affect her ability to work with gay, lesbian and transgender clients, they gave her a choice: participate in a remediation plan or leave school.

Instead, she has chosen to sue.

Last week, with the help of the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, the 24-year-old filed a civil complaint against the school, alleging her constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion had been violated.

“The university has told Jennifer Keeton that if she doesn’t change her beliefs, she can’t stay in the program,” David French, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, told “She won’t even have a chance to counsel any students; she won’t have a chance to get a counseling degree; she’ll be expelled.”

According to Keeton’s civil complaint, school officials met with her a number of times this spring to express concern over her open disagreement with gay and lesbian lifestyles in her classes and her writing assignments.

“You couldn’t be a teacher, let alone a counselor, with those views,” a faculty member told her during one meeting, according to the complaint.

The officials outlined a remediation plan for Keeton that would include such things as participating in diversity sensitivity workshops, completing reading and writing assignments on the topic and possibly attending the Augusta Gay Pride Parade, the complaint said.

She refused, writing in an e-mail to Augusta State officials, “[Y]ou are requiring me to alter my objective beliefs and also to commit now that if I ever may have a client who wants me to affirm their decision to have an abortion or engage in gay, lesbian, or transgender behavior, I will do that.

“I can’t alter my biblical beliefs, and I will not affirm the morality of those behaviors in a counseling situation.”

Augusta State officials have said Keeton’s conduct violates the code of ethics to which counselors and counselors in training are required to adhere, including those of the American Counseling Association and the American School Counselor Association, according to The Washington Times.

The school has refused comment on the pending litigation. However, public relations director Kathy Schofe told the Times that “ASU does not discriminate on the basis of any individual’s moral, religious, political or personal views or beliefs.”

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