A graduate student has filed a lawsuit
for the right to hold her anti-gay views.
Jennifer Keeton, a graduate student in
the Counselor Education Program at the Augusta State University,
filed her suit last week after school officials declared her anti-gay
beliefs incompatible with the counseling profession.
In presenting Keeton a remediation plan
in May, faculty members said her views on gay and transgender persons
are “professionally suspect,” according
to the 43-page lawsuit.
The plan questioned Keeton's “ability
to be a multiculturally competent counselor, particularly with regard
to working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and
queer/questioning (GLBTQ) populations.”
“Jen has voiced disagreement in
several class discussions and in written assignments with the gay and
lesbian 'lifestyle.' She stated in one paper that she believes GLBTQ
'lifestyles' to be identity confusion. This was during her
enrollment in the Diversity Sensitivity course and after the
presentation on GLBTQ populations.”
Faculty members also raised concerns
over Keeton's interest in reparative therapy, a controversial
treatment that promises to turn gay people straight, mostly by
“Faculty have also received
unsolicited reports from another student that [Keeton] has relayed
her interest in conversion therapy for GLBTQ populations and she has
tried to convince other students to support and believe
In the plan, Keeton is asked to attend
a minimum of three diversity workshops with an emphasis on the gay
community, increase her exposure and interaction with gay populations
(attending gay pride is suggested), and increase her study of
research on improving counseling effectiveness with LGBT people.
The twenty-four-year-old graduate
student was advised that failure to complete the plan could result in
dismissal from the program.
“A public university student
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,” David French, senior counselor for the Alliance
Defense Fund (ADF), which filed the lawsuit against the school on
Keeton's behalf, said in a statement.
French went on to tell Fox News
that Keeton believes that people have “moral choices” with regard
to their sexuality.
He said students have a right to
express their point of view without fear of “censorship or
School officials have declined to
comment on the suit.