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Old 07-29-2010, 09:42 AM   #1
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Counseling Student Can't Change Her Biblical Views

I didn't get to complete the title, whatever went wrong It was supposed to be Counseling Student Can't Change Her Biblical Views.



(CNN) -- A graduate student is suing a Georgia university, alleging that professors are requiring her to change her "biblical views" on homosexuality or be expelled from the counseling program there.

Jennifer Keeton filed a civil rights action in U.S. District Court on July 21 saying Augusta State University violated her "constitutional rights of speech, belief and religious exercise."

The action says university faculty have "promised to expel" Keeton "because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical conviction on matters of human sexuality and gender identity."

After Keeton expressed her views verbally and in written assignments, faculty mandated Keeton complete a "remediation plan."

CNN obtained a copy of the remediation plan from the Alliance Defense Fund, which represents Keeton in the action. The plan addresses issues such as writing ability and organizational skills, as well as Keeton's ability to be a "multiculturally competent counselor, particularly in regard to working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning populations."

Among the plan's requirements, Keeton was to attend at least three diversity workshops, get more exposure to gay populations (one suggestion was to attend a gay pride parade in Augusta, where the university is located), do outside reading about gays and write reflections on these experiences and how they might benefit future clients.

At first, Keeton agreed to the remediation plan, according to the suit. Then, she had second thoughts.

In video provided by the Alliance Defense Fund, Keeton says, "I want to stay in the school counseling program, [but] I can't honestly complete the remediation program knowing I would have to alter by beliefs. I'm not willing to -- and I know I can't -- change my biblical views."

In a statement to CNN, Augusta State said it "does not discriminate against any individuals on the basis of their personal, social, political, or religious beliefs or views. No student is asked to change their religious beliefs or views in order to participate in any program."

Without commenting specifically on the Keeton suit, the university also said, "The professional counselor's job is to help clients clarify their current feelings and behaviors and to help them reach the goals that they have determined for themselves, not to dictate what those goals should be, what morals they should possess, or what values they should adopt."

In an interview Wednesday on "CNN NewsRoom," David French, a senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, said all Keeton did "was express her religious views inside of class and outside of class."

"As a result of that, she's being subjected to what is best described as a thought-reform program," French said.

"It all goes back to a student engaging in constitutionally protected speech."

French added there was no allegation Keeton has done anything to harm anyone in a counseling setting, or violated any code of ethics.

Also appearing on the program were Erin Martz, manager of Ethics and Professional Standards for the American Counseling Association, and Gregory Nevins, a supervising senior staff attorney for the advocacy group Lambda Legal.

Martz said the ACA's code of ethics "is not an issue of thought-policing or putting any restrictions on beliefs of any kind."

"The code is concerned with counselors' behaviors and how they interact with their clients," she said.

"Talking to others -- espousing ideas about homosexuality or other beliefs is a behavior," Martz said. "And if that behavior goes into imposing values, that does become an issue."

French said the remediation program itself seeks to change Keeton's beliefs. He said while the ACA code prohibits imposing values, "these counseling professors have won the gold medal in the Olympics of imposing values by trying to change her religious beliefs."

"This is not an issue about conduct in any form of a counseling setting," French said. "This is a First Amendment issue about freedom of expression."

Nevins, the attorney for Lambda Legal, said the potential problem is that "many people, especially young people in the coming-out or questioning process, are looking for a sympathetic and understanding ear.

"To have somebody who is going to introduce their value system in a negative way can be extremely damaging," he said.

French said Keeton has repeatedly told the counseling department she would uphold the valid code of ethics of the American Counseling Association. Asked how Keeton would respond in a hypothetical situation of a child coming to her and saying he was gay, French said Keeton would respond in an "ethical and appropriate way."

French said the counseling department has imposed its own set of values to "cleanse" Christianity from students' belief system, violating its own ethics code. When Nevins mentioned that Keeton espoused "conversion therapy," French said the allegation was unsubstantiated.

Nevins said Keeton's or anyone's belief system had to be "pushed to one side." Martz concurred, saying, "In the counseling profession, as with the medical profession, the needs of the client supercede the needs of the counselor."

Keeton's suit asks for nominal and actual damages based on violation of her civil rights.
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:10 AM   #2
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as much as the title made me chuckle (it seems i'll laugh at pretty much anything), i fixed it for you.
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:12 AM   #3
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:48 AM   #4
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Keeton should talk to Melon. He really helped me see how I could maintian my faith in the Bible while changing my views on homosexuality.

Unless, Keeton is insisting that she is willing to pretend she believes homosexuality is okay when counseling clients (which I doubt she is), I think she should be expelled from the program. Sorry but this isn't a freedom of speech argument or an attempt to force her to change her religion.

Besides from a Christian standpoint, in the "old days" she would have accepted persecution as a cost worth paying for "following Christ" rather than suing.

If she's not willing to change her views then she should transfer to private Christian school that will allow her to complete their program.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:15 AM   #5
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Just to be clear I titled it the way I did because that's a quote from her in the article.

Her first obligation as a counselor is to her client/patient, not to her own personal views. She has to set those aside in the best interests of them, and if she can't she shouldn't be in that line of work. We all have our own beliefs and biases, but in certain jobs you just have obligations that supercede any of your own needs. All people deserve the best possible help, gay and straight.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:24 AM   #6
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Just to be clear I titled it the way I did because that's a quote from her in the article.

Her first obligation as a counselor is to her client/patient, not to her own personal views. She has to set those aside in the best interests of them, and if she can't she shouldn't be in that line of work. We all have our own beliefs and biases, but in certain jobs you just have obligations that supercede any of your own needs. All people deserve the best possible help, gay and straight.
Of course she'd probably argue that trying to counsel the gay away IS in the patients' best interest.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:29 AM   #7
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Of course she'd probably argue that trying to counsel the gay away IS in the patients' best interest.
I'd argue that she feels that way because of her religious beliefs-at least partially if not completely. When you're considering your patient's best interests I would think you have to focus on their life-not yours.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:31 AM   #8
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Keeton should talk to Melon. He really helped me see how I could maintian my faith in the Bible while changing my views on homosexuality.
True. The Bible doesn't even mention lesbianism at all.

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Unless, Keeton is insisting that she is willing to pretend she believes homosexuality is okay when counseling clients (which I doubt she is), I think she should be expelled from the program. Sorry but this isn't a freedom of speech argument or an attempt to force her to change her religion.
I agree. I wonder if she knew what she was getting herself into before signing up for the program. If Keeton knew its views on homosexuality differed from hers, then what was she doing there?
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:37 AM   #9
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Of course she'd probably argue that trying to counsel the gay away IS in the patients' best interest.


as you said, then she can find a different school.

this is no different than some pharmacist freaking out over Plan B.

her "beliefs" indicate an inability to do her job, which might well be to offer counseling to gay/lesbian individuals. her stances goes against the long accepted, mainstream, APA-approved understanding of homosexuality.

should a creationist be teaching geology?
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:38 AM   #10
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I'd argue that she feels that way because of her religious beliefs-at least partially if not completely. When you're considering your patient's best interests I would think you have to focus on their life-not yours.
I agree with you. However, I'm betting that she feels her beliefs are not just her private concern but a moral standard that applies to everyone. In her mind it's the same as insisting that she won't counsel people to go ahead with murdering their spouse. It's morally wrong and therefore what she believes or the person she is counseling is immaterial.

It reminds me of really conservative members of my Christian denomination-if you ask them if they are conservative, they will often reply along the lines of:

"I'm not liberal or conservative. I just believe in the Bible." Their thinking doesn't allow for equally valid but different points of view. There's liberal and there's the Truth. It's very black and white for them. Which is why liberals in my church generally can tolerate diverse views (including conservative ones) but conservatives can't.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:39 AM   #11
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as you said, then she can find a different school.


should a creationist be teaching geology?
At Bob Jones University or some place similar.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:40 AM   #12
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When Nevins mentioned that Keeton espoused "conversion therapy," French said the allegation was unsubstantiated.

this, to me, is particularly important.

"conversion therapy" is abuse, plain and simple.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:49 AM   #13
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this, to me, is particularly important.

"conversion therapy" is abuse, plain and simple.
once again. If she's promoting a therapy that the counseling program doesn't support and believes is harmful, then she's got no business there. Period. This is the second lawsuit I've read about in FYM today that I just find to be frivolous.

And I really hate how Christians these days deal with so-called "persecution" by filing lawsuits. Since she's sticking to "Biblical principles" she should know there's no Biblical support for her filing suit either.

Keeton should turn it around. Would an atheist be allowed to teach religion classes at a Christian college or university?
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:52 AM   #14
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Asked how Keeton would respond in a hypothetical situation of a child coming to her and saying he was gay, French said Keeton would respond in an "ethical and appropriate way."
This is a very vague response. She has to be more specific about what she means if she's going to expect the school to let her continue in the program.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:56 AM   #15
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This is a very vague response. She has to be more specific about what she means if she's going to expect the school to let her continue in the program.
Indeed. What, being ethical and appropriate to her means saying calmly and compassionately as possible, "sorry kid, you better change or else you're going to hell" ?
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