A graduate student at Augusta State University (ASU) in Georgia is facing expulsion for failing to embrace a lifestyle that conflicts with her own beliefs and choices. The only way Jen Keeton, a devout Christian, can continue working towards her graduate degree in counseling is by proving beyond a doubt to school officials that she has a new found appreciation and respect for homosexuality.
Contrary to the mistreatment Keeton has experienced for expressing her diverse viewpoint and beliefs on a sensitive issue in the classroom, the publicly-funded ASU’s Mission Statement proudly proclaims, “The mission obligates the university to be open to the voices of all its members, to be responsive to the needs of its community, and to measure its success by the success of its students.”
Keeton discovered ASU’s hypocrisy when she countered a professor’s claim that homosexuality is a “state of being” versus a “behavioral choice,” and was subsequently informed that she must renounce her faith and its ‘discriminatory’ teachings or face expulsion. School officials proposed a “remediation” program for Keeton as a ‘solution’ to her perceived ‘problem’ that would allow for reinstatement upon successful completion.
ASU officials told Keeton to take a 'field trip' to a gay pride parade so she could "develop" her knowledge of homosexuality.
“The remediation program was to include ‘sensitivity training’ on homosexual issues, additional outside study on literature promoting homosexuality and the plan that she attend a ‘gay pride parade‘ and report on it,” WorldNetDaily.com (WND) revealed. Contrary to school officials’ and advocates’ claims that homosexuality is not a choice; it is a natural sexual orientation, school officials tried to immerse Keeton in homosexual-themed issues and events so she would choose to embrace it versus reject it. Ironic, huh?
Attorneys working with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) recently filed a lawsuit asserting the state-operated college cannot violate the Constitution by demanding that a person’s beliefs be changed, reports WND.
“ASU faculty have promised to expel Miss Keeton from the graduate Counselor Education program, not because of poor academic showing or demonstrated deficiencies in clinical performance,” the ADF explained, “but simply because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity.”
ASU spokeswoman Kathy Schose told WND that Keeton’s faith and ‘controversial’ beliefs about homosexuality clash with the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) “Code of Ethics” that “opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation.”
Schose said students in the school’s counseling program are required to adopt the ACA’s provisions with regards to counseling and treating potential future homosexual clients. The ADF lawsuit, however, “specifically charges the faculty members targeted Keeton’s biblically based belief system and values, not her behavior regarding the treatment of any clients, which had not yet happened,” WND notes.
Keeton issued her own response to university officials’ to explain her understanding of the situation and how it is irrelevant to the pursuit of her degree and future career as a mental health counselor.
At times you said that I must alter my beliefs because they are unethical. … other times you said that I can keep my beliefs so long as they are only personal and I don’t believe that anyone else should believe like me. But that is just another way of saying that I must alter my beliefs, because my beliefs are about absolute truth. ….. in order to finish the counseling program you 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.”
“[Keeton] shouldn’t be threatened with expulsion for being a Christian and refusing to publicly renounce her faith, but that’s exactly what’s happening here,” ADF Senior Counsel David French told WND. “Simply put, the university is imposing thought reform. Abandoning one’s own religious beliefs should not be a precondition at a public university for obtaining a degree. This type of leftist zero-tolerance policy is in place at far too many universities, and it must stop. Jennifer’s only crime was to have the beliefs that she does.”
The good news for Christian students seeking careers in the mental health profession where their morals and beliefs are appreciated, not scorned and punished, is that there are numerous faith-based counseling services across the nation that incorporate Biblical teachings in their “clinically-sound” approaches to helping Christian clients overcome personal challenges and live more productive lives.