education

Can a Christian Who Believes Homosexuality Is Wrong Become a Qualified Counselor?

Can Jennifer Keeton, a student in the counselors masters program at Augusta State University, effectively counsel others if she believes homosexuality is a choice?

The school thought not, and told Keeton to enroll in a remediation program (and go to gay pride!) designed to foster … let’s say … more reasonable and open-minded beliefs about LGBTs. Keeton doesn’t think she needs to change what the Bible tells her, and has filed suit against the university. Naturally, the Alliance Defense Fund is involved; it calls the university’s actions forced “thought reform.” Relays the Christian Post:

According to the filed complaint, “She has stated that she believes sexual behavior is the result of accountable personal choice rather than an inevitability deriving from deterministic forces. She also has affirmed binary male-female gender, with one or the other being fixed in each person at their creation, and not a social construct or individual choice subject to alteration by the person so created. Further, she has expressed her view that homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle,’ not a ‘state of being.’”

In May, Keeton was notified that she would be asked to participate in a remediation plan. Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley, an associate professor who also oversees student education and discipline, explained that the faculty wanted to see Keeton’s writing skills improve and that they are concerned with some of her beliefs and views pertaining to GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) issues.

Several faculty members later met with the student and told her that they considered her to be failing to conform to certain professional standards. In a written Remediation Plan, the faculty said her speech on GLBT matters violated the codes of ethics that counselors and those in training are required to adhere to.

Keeton’s views “depart from what ‘the psychological research about GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning) populations asserts’ that that ‘sexual orientation is not a lifestyle or choice, but a state of being,’” faculty members said.

And if Keeton doesn’t complete the program? She’ll be kicked out of the Counselor Education Program, she claims. ASU isn’t commenting, because doing so would violate the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, it claims. But wasn’t it Keeton who signed up voluntarily for the program, knowing it followed the ethical standards of American School Counselor Association, which requires counselors “recognize and accept” cultural diversity and different points of view.

Not that ASU is dealing with this situation for the first time, notes the Augusta Chronicle.

Elizabeth Evans, of Louisville, said she had a similar experience when she began the counselor education program at ASU in 1995. After taking three courses, Evans said she was interviewed by a panel of professors who questioned her religious beliefs. “I told them I think homosexuality is wrong. The Bible speaks against it,” she said. “I was not admitted to the program, because of my beliefs. When I read the article, my heart hurt for Jennifer.”

Evans said she decided to pursue a master’s degree in early childhood education at the university. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree. Though she found her calling, she said Christian students at the university should not be treated as Keeton has. “I can’t believe they suggested that she go to the gay pride parade,” Evans said. “I hope she sues the pants off of them.”

Below, Keeton tells her side: