Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Student who was fired for opposing homosexuality loses court case

From the Christian Post.

Excerpt:

A Christian student at a Georgia university who was expelled from her school’s counseling program for expressing her disagreement with homosexuality has lost a court case against the school.

“(Jennifer) Keeton’s speech and conduct were evidently impelled by the absolutist philosophical character of her beliefs, but that character does not entitle her to university accommodation and it is irrelevant to the court’s analysis,” wrote Judge J. Randall Hall, of the Southern District of Georgia, siding with the university. “Neutrality as a legal standard is immutable, it does not bend to the strength or tenor of personal conviction.”

Keeton refused to change the way she engages with homosexual students because of her religious beliefs, and was expelled from the counseling program at Augusta State University in 2010, which stressed that the program should not discriminate against students regardless of their sexual orientation.

[...]Keeton was initially placed on probation, and school officials required her to follow a “remediation plan.” This included attending sensitivity training, going to gay pride events and writing papers on her experiences and the lessons she had learned in tolerance. When Keeton refused to comply, she was removed from her position.

“The remediation plan imposed on Keeton pursuant to those policies placed limits on her speech and burdened her religious beliefs, but, as the allegations show, the plan was motivated by a legitimate pedagogical interest in cultivating a professional demeanor and concern that she might prove unreceptive to certain issues and openly judge her clients,” the judge said. “The allegations show, in sum, that while Keeton was motivated by her religious beliefs, Defendants were not.”

Hall added that the American School Counselor Association’s Ethical Standards for School Counselors clearly states that counselors cannot impose their own values on clients, and must take on each case from a neutral viewpoint. The judge also defended Augusta State’s remediation plan, stating that it did not infringe on Keeton’s first amendment rights, but was an attempt to get her to comply with the school’s policies.

In a similar case, Julea Ward from Eastern Michigan University was also expelled from her counseling job because of her views on homosexuality. She had requested that a gay client be transferred to another counselor, which the school argued went against its policies, despite the fact that it allows client transfers based on non-religious reasons. A lower-court initially ruled in favor of Eastern Michigan University, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision, arguing that Ward’s constitutional rights were violated.

Remember, these schools very often get public funding, which means that Christians are paying to have this done to them. That’s what you get when you vote for more goverment and more grants for universities. These places are generally not our friends – across the board. Also, think of how she gave them thousands of dollars in tuition.

What’s the lesson here? I think that the lesson is that the safest way to avoid losing thousands of dollars is to study STEM-related fields in a secular university or any field in a Christian university. The best schools for Christians are listed here. I agree that Wheaton College should be left off the list and I think that Grove City, Biola, Houston Baptist and Hillsdale are the best, especially Grove City. Christians have to be careful where we go to school and what we study now.

One last point. It is a good idea for Christians to learn how to talk about their convictions on moral issues using evidence, and not talking about their faith or the Bible to people who don’t like us very much. The Bible informs your faith, but that is not something you share with non-Christians who are hostile to you.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

6 Responses

  1. Oh good, because I’m thinking about going to Biola for grad school. I just need to find a way to come up with the money, because I’m not taking out loans for grad school.

  2. Stan says:

    “What’s the lesson here?” The conclusion would beg the question. What’s the goal? If the goal is “to avoid losing thousands of dollars”, then perhaps study STEM stuff. If the goal is to leave the fields of psychology and counseling to worldly thinking so that Christians in need of assistance are without resource, then perhaps study STEM stuff. If the goal is to prove the existence of God via education and science, then perhaps study STEM stuff. Of course, if there are other goals (like to help people with counseling while being a Christian or becoming a missionary or a pastor or maybe not even going to college at all), then, of course, studying STEM stuff would not be the answer, would it?

    In addition, going to a school whose Code of Ethics requires no discrimination on the basis of “gender identity and sexual orientation” and then complaining because you violated their rules just doesn’t make much sense, does it? Or is it our goal to realign public universities to our values?

    • I agree with the last point. Don’t go to a secular university with a policy like that and expect them to accommodate you. There is no diversity or freedom on secular college campuses. There is a strong fascistic streak in secularists and socialists than cannot tolerate critical thinking or dissenting opinions. I am posting this story as a warning.

      If the person insists on studying counseling, then this story suggests applying practical wisdom thus:

      1) Make sure you have a financial plan that makes sense. Do you have enough money to get the degree? Are you likely to find employment that will compensate you enough to pay off loans and live?
      2) Decide if it is safer to study these topics in a Christian school where you can be open about your beliefs, or would it be better to go to a more prestigious school and keep your head down until you graduate/get tenure/get a job. A secular school may be more prestigious, but more risky.

      A lot of people lose their faith by not thinking things through practically when making decisions about education – may Christians think the world is safer for them than it really is. A man’s got to know his limitations. Count the cost before you make choices. There are good Christian schools out there where you can do these degrees, and in the meantime we should try to lobby our legislators for an Academic Bill of Rights that guarantees free speech.

  3. Stan says:

    “Not thinking things through”

    Amen and amen.

    I don’t think it is accurate to suggest that Keeton’s free speech was denied. She was/is free to say what she wanted. They were free to say, “Just don’t do it here.”

  4. Sean Wilson says:

    “Keeton was initially placed on probation, and school officials required her to follow a “remediation plan.” This included attending sensitivity training, going to gay pride events and writing papers on her experiences and the lessons she had learned in tolerance.”

    Aren’t these the same people who oppose Christians who send their kids to “straight camps”?

  5. Jonah says:

    I spoke at a conference at Grove City earlier this year. It seemed like a great school with great people, even though I was only there for a short period of time.

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