Monday, July 26, 2010

University Student Must Change Beliefs on Homosexuality or Face Expulsion

An Augusta State University counseling student has filed a lawsuit against her school claiming it violated her First Amendment rights when it told her to change her traditionalist Christian views on homosexuality or get out.

The Alliance Defense Fund filed suit Wednesday on behalf of Jennifer Keeton, 24, seeking to stop the school from expelling her from her master’s degree program.

“They made a cascading series of presumptions about the kind of a counselor she would be and have consequently … tried to force her to change her beliefs,” David French, the ADF attorney representing Keeton in the case, told The Daily Caller. “It’s symbolic of an educational system that has lost its way.”

The suit alleges the university retaliated against Keeton for stating her belief that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and not a “state of being,” and that gender is not a social construct subject to individual change. According to the suit, the school wants her to undergo a “thought reform” program intended to change her religious beliefs. She faces expulsion unless she complies, and the suit seeks to block the university from throwing her out for noncompliance.

Read more:

Let's just assume, for the sake of argument, that the facts as stated above are true. Is this acceptable at all?

OK, I know homosexuality can be a hotbutton issue because some view it with links to morality and character, but it's not just Christians who hold such beliefs. Were this student Muslim, do you think any US university would be telling her to change her beliefs?

To ask the question is to answer it.

But let's move on from homosexuality. Should a public university require students to hold certain political or religious beliefs?

Again, to ask the question is to answer it.

Update, 7/28/10: A court has upheld a similar but different expulsion, but there's a little more to that story:
A federal judge has ruled in favor of a public university that removed a Christian student from its graduate program in school counseling over her belief that homosexuality is morally wrong. Monday's ruling, according to Julea Ward's attorneys, could result in Christian students across the country being expelled from public university for similar views.

“It’s a very dangerous precedent,” Jeremy Tedesco, legal counsel for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, told FOX News Radio. “The ruling doesn’t say that explicitly, but that’s what is going to happen.”

U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh dismissed Ward’s lawsuit against Eastern Michigan University. She was removed from the school’s counseling program last year because she refused to counsel homosexual clients.
Refused to counsel homosexual clients? That's a little different from being removed because she doesn't approve of homosexuality. Remember when President Reagan joked, after being shot, that he hoped all the doctors were Republicans? It would have been more than a little unethical for the Democrat doctors to refuse to operate.

I still don't like the "reeducation" requirement the school is insisting on, though.


Anonymous said...

To expand on your Muslim comment, all she has to do is say:

"I have converted to Islam and, in accordance with Islamic teaching, believe all homosexuals should be murdered."

Everyone will swoon and cheer how multi-culti they are, rushing to Celebrate Diversity by embracing her.

Hardcore Christian vs. homosexual: "I'll pray for you."

Hardcore Muslim vs. homosexual: "I'll kill you."

Oh wait I forgot, all religions are the same.

maxutils said...

First, I think your wrong. Were it a different religion, I think they would have done the same thing . . . the main difference, in my opinion, is that people of other religious faiths tend to be less outspoken about their disapproval of homosexuality -- and as long as they are sneaky about it, there's no stopping them.

That said, I'm conflicted: she should absolutely be able to hold those religious beliefs, and a public university has no right to tell her otherwise. Provided, of course, that she is not in some position of power where she is discriminating against homosexuals.

On the other hand, the fact that she is ignorant and wrong about homosexuality should count for something. I wouldn't want my university graduating students (particularly in a field where they would be likely to have to deal with counseling people who might well be homosexual) with such a tenuous grip on reality. So, I would let her do what she wants, but every time she spouted off about homosexuals choosing the lifestyle, or being sinners, or quite frankly, any invocation of her religion as being the one that mattered in her papers or in class discussion, I would dock her grade -- for being a) wrong b) a bad counselor prospect, or c) both. Let her flunk out on her own . . .

Boo said...

Hmmm? Good thing nobody expects Ward Churchill to change his beliefs.

Darren said...

I don't know about "nobody", but I do know about "me". I believed then, and still do, that Churchill should be able to hold his beliefs and that he and those beliefs should be held up to scorn and ridicule whenever they are encountered. I supported his firing because of his lies (about Native American ancestry) and his documented plagiarism.

Anyone who wouldn't support firing someone who lied to get a job, and who plagiarized--especially in academia--just because they might share that person's political beliefs, is at the minimum an ideologue.

Ellen K said...

So since when are an individual's rights to free speech suspended when you enter a university? What is also disturbing is the various references to anonymous complaints and tips. It sounds like a middle school whispering campaign. Within the spectrum of counseling, there are all kinds of counselors. There are those that are Christian in their approach. There are those who rely on specific therapies. It just seems odd to single out one student. In short, it seems like a type of character assassination. I hope she sues the university for every dime she spent in school.

Doug said...

Well said Ellen K. I attended a small Christian college and they allowed non-Christians into the Psych dept. and allowed them to apply what they learned in whatever way they saw fit. To say "Allow them to flunk out on their own" says nothing to diversity in counseling, as well as to the idea that maybe Christianity is capable of healing??

maxutils said...

Diversity in counseling is fine; counselors who have an absolutely 100% wrong impression about what causes people to be homosexual isn't. I think it's entirely acceptable for a public university to require their students to be knowledgeable . . . If religion is so important to you that you feel the need to hold on to beliefs that fly in the face of reason, then, by all means, attend a religious college where basing your ideology on unverifiable parables is accepted . . . and, let the degree from that institution serve as a warning to those you counsel.

Darren said...

Come on, max. There is no certainty at all in the scientific community as to whether homosexuality is learned, chosen, or inherited/ingrained, and for you to suggest otherwise is disingenuous at best.

maxutils said...

Well, I disagree with you . . . and, while there may not be any certainty, I believe most people have accepted that homosexuality is not a choice (at least in the vast majority of cases). I also believe in the sliding scale: everyone falls somewhere on a scale of completely heterosexual to completely homosexual, and that there are gray areas that account for bisexuallity - so, disingenuous I'm not. I very much believe that holding either of the other perspectives is a sign of ignorance.

But, while we're worried about certainty, would you please explain to me why we should take the Christian, or Muslim, or any other religious anti-gay perspective? Can you be certain that the Bible, or the Koran, is really the word of God, or Allah? Or that there is even a God at all?

As an economist, I believe strongly that people respond to incentives. Given that homosexuals are regularly subjected to ridicule, discrimination, and the condemnation of religious folk, I find it exceptionally difficult to believe that they would voluntarily choose to become gay. Especially if they also have to burn in hell for eternity. and, if they HAVE made that choice, trying to counsel them out of it is probably not useful.

Anonymous said...

There is ZERO evidence that anyone chooses their sexuality. There is a large body of evidence that it has some genetic component as shown by twin studies.

Darren said...

ZERO evidence? I guess the science is settled, then, a la global warming.