If you’ve been following The Gay News for a while, you probably remember the story of Jennifer Keeton. She was a counseling student at Augusta State University who wanted special treatment from the school based on her fundamentalist beliefs. Specifically, she wanted to be able to go against accepted mental health guidelines when it comes to treating gays and lesbians. When the school politely explained to her that if she was to graduate, she would have to make sure that her beliefs did not interfere with the accepted standards of that profession, she cried “victim!” and sued. That has not been going well for her:
A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a lower court’s ruling against a graduate student who had sought a court order preventing Augusta State University from expelling her from its school-counseling program.
The student, Jennifer Keeton, sued the Georgia university in July 2010, saying that it had violated her rights to free speech and the free exercise of her Christian faith when it told her that, in order to stay in the program, she would have to change her beliefs about homosexuality—that it is immoral, unnatural, and a “lifestyle choice” that can be reversed through “conversion therapy.”
The court noted that the requirements of the counseling program—needed for its continued accreditation and compliance with the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics—are similar to the rules for judges, who must apply laws even if they consider them erroneous.
“In seeking to evade the curricular requirement that she not impose her moral values on clients,” the court said, “Keeton is looking for preferential, not equal, treatment.”
Oh, ouch, that must have burned when she read it.
This is a parallel issue to the one we highlighted with our ad in the Ithaca Journal recently. In that ad, we took to task town clerks in the state of New York who are unwilling to perform their jobs acceptably, using their religious beliefs as an excuse, and are demanding a special pass to discriminate against gays and lesbians by refusing to issue marriage licenses. Obviously, the clerks are a government issue, whereas the standards of the counseling profession are not, but it’s a similar theme these days. Religious Fundamentalists want reality to impose to their weird notions of how things are, and when reality intervenes and treats them the same as everybody else, they have a temper tantrum. We’ll be seeing a lot more of these in the coming years.