Now in the courts:

In the spring of 2010, Jennifer Keeton was the Christian victim du jour. Keeton, a graduate student at Georgia’s Augusta State University, told other students that she wanted to become a conversion “therapist” to help people by “curing them of their homosexuality.”

She told her professors, and wrote in a term paper, that she would have to tell gay clients that homosexuality was wrong and that being homosexual was a choice.

Jennifer Keeton

A practicum was part of her degree program, Keeton was scheduled to practice counseling as an intern in middle and high schools. It’s hard to understand how the university faculty would be concerned that an individual who thought that the gay could be cured and that being gay was morally wrong would be inflicted upon fragile teens and preteens. Oy veh.

The school informed Keeton that her program required her to adhere to the guidelines from the American Counseling Association which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Indeed, I would argue that gay students might be more likely to seek counseling than their heterosexual peers. After all, a school counselor is the point person on issues like bullying, depression and loss of self-esteem. Moreover, the ACA accredits the school. That accreditation would be at risk if the school permitted a student or students to violate ACA guidelines. Keeton was also informed that her writing skills were considerably below par.

Keeton was asked to comply with a remediation plan that would require her to take an English composition class, attend sensitivity training, read counseling journals and mix with gays.  It was suggested that she might attend events like the city’s gay pride parade. Oh the horror of it all

Keeton refused. She was placed on academic probation and warned that she could be expelled.

Jennifer Keeton did what every victimized fundamentalist Christian does. She contacted the folks at Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit fundamentalist law firm.

Alliance Defense FundADF failed to get a federal judge to issue an injunction prohibiting Keen’s expulsion but they filed suit in federal court. The suit names twenty six defendants including the entire Board of Regents. Therein, they cite the following alleged causes of action:

  • Violation of her freedom of speech.
  • Violation of her right to freely exercise her religion.
  • Violation of freedom from unconstitutional conditions.
  • Violation of her right to equal protection.
  • Violation of her right to due process.

This would be novel except for the fact that ADF has already lost a nearly identical suit at Eastern Michigan University. The American Counseling Association  has written an informative piece explaining their position on both controversies.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.