Accept Our School’s Belief System, or You’re Gone

Jennifer Keeton, age 24, is a student in the graduate counselor education program at Augusta State University, Georgia. Faculty members at ASU have informed Ms. Keeton that she will be dismissed if she does not rid herself of beliefs that the school opposes. She holds traditional Christian views about sexuality and gender, and believes homosexuality is a “lifestyle,” not a “state of being,” as her school teaches. She agrees with her faculty that counselors should never impose their views on clients, and is not accused of saying or believing that she should. She also says she affirms the inherent dignity of all persons, regardless of their views or sexual behavior.
That wasn’t good enough for ASU. The school ordered Keeton to attend a “remediation program” in multicultural re-education and sensitivity training. An assistant professor suggested she attend the Gay Pride parade in Augusta, and she was told to file written reports on how she is moving toward the sexual belief system her school requires. She reluctantly agreed to accept the remediation, then backed out, saying in an email to faculty members, “I understand the need to reflect client’s goals and to allow them to work toward their own solutions, and I know I can do that… (but) I can’t alter my biblical beliefs, and I will not affirm the morality of those behaviors in a counseling situation.” She says she was told by two assistant professors that “it was a life and death matter to not affirm a client’s sexual decision, and that failure to do so has led and could lead to suicides by clients who are not affirmed in their sexual preferences.”
On Keeton’s behalf, the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit yesterday against teachers, deans and regents of ASU, charging violations of freedom of speech and religion.

John Leo

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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