Jennifer Keeton, the student fighting
for her right to hold anti-gay views, filed an appeal Monday of her
Keeton, a graduate student in the
Counselor Education Program at the Augusta State University in
Georgia, is challenging school officials who have declared her
anti-gay beliefs incompatible with the counseling profession.
U.S. District Judge J. Randall Hall
ruled Friday in favor of the university. Hall said it was reasonable
for a public university to enforce academic standards.
“[M]atters of educational policy
should be left to educators and it is not the proper role of federal
judges to second guess an educator's professional judgment,” Hall
According to the 43-page lawsuit,
Keeton was presented with a remediation plan in May, in which faculty
members said her views on gay and transgender persons are
“professionally suspect.” The plan called for Keeton 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 was suggested), and increase her study and
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.
Keeton has described the plan as an
attack on her religious beliefs.
“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.
But Hall dismissed the suit's religious
claims: “[T]he plan was imposed because the plaintiff exhibited an
inability to counsel in a professionally ethical manner – that is,
an inability to resist imposing her moral viewpoint on counselees –
in violation of the ACA Code of Ethics, which is part of the ASU
counseling program's curriculum.”