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July 28th, 2010
08:06 AM ET

ASU Student may not graduate due to personal beliefs

From CNN Intern Emily Landrieu:

A counseling student at Augusta State University is in danger of not graduating – and it’s not because of her grades.

Jennifer Keaton is a devout Christian who believes that homosexuality is wrong. On the other side, administrators at ASU are concerned that her beliefs will prevent her from conforming to the professional standards of a licensed counselor. Jennifer sued the University earlier this month when they told her she would not graduate if she didn’t participate in a “remediation program” that is intended to increase her tolerance and exposure of the LGBT community. However, according to Jennifer’s lawyer, a public university “can not force a student to change their religious beliefs for staying in an academic program”. The remediation program entails adding on additional requirements to her masters’ degree such as attending workshops, writing monthly reflections and increasing her interaction with the LGBT community. ASU follows the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics in which members, “ recognize diversity and embrace a cross cultural approach in support of the worth dignity, potential and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts”.

We want your opinion – Should Jennifer have to go through “sensitivity training” in order to get her diploma or is the university going too far?

Please post your comments below and Kyra will read some during the 10am ET hour of the CNN Newsroom.


Filed under: Anchors • CNN Newsroom • Kyra Phillips
soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. maria

    As a lawyer is able to represent or deny working with a client. It should be the same with counselors. If a counselor can't work with someone because of their bias than that should be their right. They may not earn as much but I wouldn't want someone to listen to my problems if they already pre judged me. If the curriculum isn't requiring the extra classes to graduate. I don't believe she should be penalized to do extra credit for more exposure. Kyra should be able to get her degree like everyone else.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:14 am |
  2. Benjamin J. Roethig

    I do not think she should be prevented from earning her degree for this. That being said her "Christian" (they should be ashamed soiling the lord's name with bigotry) beliefs will make it really really difficult to find a job in the real world.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:18 am |
  3. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    ASU are forcing there beliefs on other people and the Dean should be fired with full apologies to Jennifer for the incompetence of there school board and she should be awarded her full tuition back for the grief caused by the school .

    July 28, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  4. Pete

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it is wrong or even discriminatory. However, having discriminatory thoughts and practicing discrimination are two different things. Graduate yes, Thought Police is unconstitutional, but the state licensing bureaus hopefully will not let her practice discrimination.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  5. Gael

    Jennifer is to be applauded for her integrity. If a homosexual chose to engage her for relationship counseling she would advise the client she is not qualified to assist him/her. As she would any issue beyong her training and skill. Does a therapist have her degree pulled, or is she forced into remediation for not wanting to support a pregant female through the abortion process? If a therapist disagrees with adoption is she forced into remediation because she won't assist a client to relinquish her child? Are therapists expected to be conduits between their clients and political correctness? If so where do the clients who are not PC go for care? Is it political correctness or psychological research and best practice that guides the clinician? There are many mirky issues, and to withhold an earned degree because of political correctness is a travesty.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  6. Tyler

    Though I do not agree with her views, she has every right to hold them. Augusta State University is a public institution, which receives federal funding (read: taxpayer money). It has absolutely no legal right to make such demands of its students...that is, assuming I did not wake up in the book, "1984," this morning.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:40 am |
  7. scott

    Perhaps she should get her degree...but the university has the right to try to train students to be effective counselors and not bigoted. What other beliefs does she have? Will she counsel me when i tell her I am an atheist? And why is she making so much noise over this? She is probably a self-righteous narcissistic individual who needs to find a new profession and she has brought shame to herself by openly not accepting others for their personal choices.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  8. susan maasch

    she wants to dictate that she deserves a degree from an institution that knows that she is uneducable, that she discriminates. She wants that degree anyway, so that she can do harm .She will not respect the ethical tenants and standards of all relevant professional associaitons related to her field and even license her. What kind of therapy does she want to offer, reparitive.? Why should she be able to obtain a degree from an educational institution that is being asked to turn their back on research and valid studies that show that reparitive ex gay therapy does not help anyone, but in fact harms. Professors have the right to have data based valid social science research and standards. No one told her she could not be christian or hold christian values. Academia has to have standards. I am amazed that she is bold enough to think at her age and her experience in a closed society that she has all the answers. Most kids that reject the wisdom of their collective professors are not passed.There has to be standards. She probably does not belong in academia or in this type of degree program . And hate speak and discrimination is not inherently a christian value. And it should not be granted a higher degree. She has failed.Some people are uneducable.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  9. K. Johnson

    I am fighting a similar facing a similar situation in as a graduate counseling student New Orleans. My GPA was 3.67 and I was dismissed without a hearing from a counseling graduate program because the assistant professor teaching the course thought I was a remedial student and wanted me to take undefined remedial courses that she drew up for me. I am fighting this battle in New Orleans.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  10. Chuck

    A remediation plan is vital to counselor education. Jenn must have shown some sort of other non-counselor like behaviors in order to have a remediation plan created. The counselor education faculty have the ethical obligation to not only protect the profession of counseling but to protect the communities in which we live. Jenn sounds upset that her closed minded views have been called out.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  11. Cary

    I am a school counselor in NC and agree with Augusta State University. As counselors we must be able to put aside our biasis. This is required by our Code of Ethics. She does not need to change her beliefs. However, her own personal beliefs do not have a place in the counseling office.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  12. Concerned Citizen

    There are Christian Counselors out there that work with people who believe like this student does. Why block her from graduating because she doesn't agree with the university on this issue? I believe the Constitution grants an individual the pursuit of happiness. If her life's dream is to counsel people, let her. If you don't agree with her, find another counselor. For goodness sake, if you don't like your doctor, you switch. They don't disbar them for telling people things they don't like to hear.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  13. Dr. Liz DiBernardo

    Kyra,

    As a professor of social psychology and a practicing organizational psychologist – I can tell you that the student must take this "sensitivity" course to recieve a degree from an American University.

    This is not any different than the "sensitivity" training offered to all male universities and the military when women were allowed to receive higher degrees or serve in the military.

    Without education, there can be no end to discrimination – of any kind.

    Dr. Liz

    July 28, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  14. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Making people pretend to be something that they are not is not fair to the defendant maybe it would be better not to be with communist attitudes when teaching people you can lead a horse to water but you can not make them drink .

    July 28, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  15. Laura

    Although your own beliefs can be incorporated into the counseling process, your beliefs should NEVER determine the relationship in the helping process. If the counseling program's goal is to produce students that follow the Code of Ethics and are accepting of diversity, than she is not complying with the school's requirements and should find a program that will be more accepting of her practice techniques.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:36 am |
  16. Tony J.

    Is this as required class? Does every other couselors from ASU? If not, then it's wrong to punish anyone with any sensitivity class for their own beliefs. Sounds like ASU is protecting themsevles just in case this outspoken student with a degree from their school goes "rougue".

    July 28, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  17. Brannon C.

    As a soon to graduate counselor, I have to wonder if there is more to this story. What took place prior to the university's decision? It is important for us to be able to navigate our own biases and ultimately do what will be most helpful to our clients. If she is unable to do this, maybe a reevaluation of career goals is in order. In a field that represents so many diverse populations, it is unrealistic to think that interaction with LGBT is avoidable.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  18. Steve

    Imagine if she wanted to be a high school science or history teacher instead of a guidance counselor but refused to study evolution because it conflicts with her religious beliefs. Would she have a leg to stand on then?

    July 28, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  19. Marlene

    Is the goal of this remediation plan to ensure she is an effective counselor for any student that might come speak to her (regardless of the issue) or is it to change her religious views? As much as I disagree with them, it is her right to hold them, and if the latter is the goal, the university has crossed major ethical and legal boundaries. However, I can see how the university could make a compelling case to address issues that individual graduate students might face to ensure they can comply with the code of ethics.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  20. Deb K.

    Why doesn't this student opt for the opportunity of increased learning and the ability to better treat her clients instead of having to hire an attorney to defend her beliefs. Three people trying to overtalk each other to voice their opinion is a waste of time when all this requires is this particular student's willingness to become more open and educated about an area that requires her sensitive professional approach after she becomes certified. She can believe anything she wants, but be sensitive to those seeking help and don't impose her beliefs. That's the issue.
    Deb K.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  21. Chris

    The fact of the matter is that they are training an "accredited professional". I'm a graduate student in Geology and part of the process of getting my degree is to provide a thesis. If, say, I believed that the world was six thousand year old rather than 4.5 billion years old, and expressed this belief in my SCIENTIFIC thesis... I would not be granted the degree.

    Perhaps not the most direct comparison, but it's the same idea. We haven't heard the facts yet on this story, but if it's true that Ms. Keaton is spouting out about her beliefs on homosexuality then it certainly calls her abilities as a fair and balanced counselor into question.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  22. Bob Umlas

    Beliefs are personal and shouldn't be held as a measure of whether someone shold graduate, even if it's not the popular belief. Using that logic, anyone who didn't vote for Obama should also not graduate, at least not without corrective training & thinking and conforming to the majority. How foolish and unenlightened!

    July 28, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  23. Kevin Hayes

    I agree with the University on this one. I believe in the 1st Amendment rights of every American. The University has every right to demand that their graduates of their program understand that as a Counselor (professional) you can not and should not be espousing personal views as though they were good sound professional advice. I think that maybe this young lady should rethink her career goals and aspirations.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  24. George

    This is a classic example of liberal individuals doing what they can to promote discrimination on the basis of thought, not action. The student has the right under the 1st Amendment to discuss her personal views and stances on things, in this case, homosexuality. Her personal views should have nothing to do with whether she should graduate – if she's accomplished the necessary coursework, often exceling above her classmates, then she should be granted the same degree.

    Her FUTURE treatment of her patients is an entirely separate issue. You cannot punish someone for "alleged FUTURE actions" when she not done so.

    I give the example of a doctor who is atheist. Should the doctor not be granted a degree because he is an atheist? No. if he completes his coursework and is trained to become a doctor, then he should be conferred the degree. If one day, there is a Christian dying on the street, and he doesn't help the Christian, then he'll have to answer to that...

    So give the woman the degree... stop trying to indoctrinate people Augusta. I hope you get sued, lose, have to pay MILLIONS and end up shutting down your school due to the lawsuit.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  25. Katie

    Kyra's lawyer continued to say that the school will not allow her to have her own beliefs. Do any of us believe that....no! Of course the school allows such a thing, but such a program requires a person to be open. The simple fact that she will not attend the class means that she is not open-minded enough for this profession. If she were, she would attended the class and see what it entails. Of course she is angry because she feels its unfair that she has to take an extra class. But look at it this way, she is lacking a tool and she needs it. There is no anti-Christian issue here.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  26. Mike

    In response to the final comment made by David French, saying that the first amendment is the bottom line, I have to say that can't be completely true. If a student is intending to enter a service-oriented profession, such as the medical or counseling field, that person must understand that their ultimate responIbility is to the client or patient that they are serving. If someone cannot accept that fact, then perhaps that person should find another profession.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  27. Frederick Kardatzke

    They are not asking her to deny her religion, but rather to develop her by exposing her to the real world in which she will be counseling! Exposing her to sensitivity training will grow her religion not prevent her from holding Christian beliefs. As Christians we must love all peoples and as counsolers we must aid them all.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  28. Patty

    I believe she should be able to get her degree. She was not found to have show bigotry to a client or anyone she was counseling but simply holds a value that some believe is wrong. Who is to say she will bring her bias into the counseling. Everyone has biases and as others have stated these biases should not enter the counseling session but she also has the right as a counselor to recommend the client to another person.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  29. Jacob

    Her beliefs aren't in question: Her sensitivity is. She can have whatever beliefs she wants as long as she doesn't force them on her clients, because that's not her job.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  30. Nathaniel

    It feels like there is a lot of depth in this story that was simply brushed over in the pursuit of a soundbyte. The person who actually wanted to discuss the issue was cut out of the conversation because CNN always favors the watered down, back-and-forth of "she's right!" "no, she's wrong!"

    July 28, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  31. Kat

    This woman should NOT be allowed to graduate, and I question why she would even want to be a counselor. They're not forcing her to change her beliefs...they're asking her to open her mind for the benefit of her future clients. Having sought counseling myself, it was an opportunity for me to open up to someone who I could TRUST would not judge me. My best friend is in counseling right now after technically committing adultery, which I'm sure would fall into the same category with Ms. Keaton. I have another friend who is in counseling dealing with sexual abuse and incest. Or what about a child who was abused by clergy...could she handle it? People have a range of issues that I don't believe that she's open-minded enough to deal with. Perhaps a better role for her would be a priest in a Catholic confessional...oh wait. Women aren't allowed to do that!

    July 28, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  32. Sherry

    If a person were attending a religious seminary in order to become a minister and began telling others that he/she didn't actually believe in God, do you think the seminary would go ahead and allow that person to get their degree? I think not, as that person would not be able to be an effective minister with that belief. This is a situation similar to that of the woman studying to be a counselor whose personal beliefs are obviously going to affect her ability to do her job since she is so vocal about them.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  33. Larry

    Absolutly this girl should get her degree!! It is definatly discrimination, they are telling her she can have her believes but she has to against them to graduate. She has to take a class that nobody else has to take to get a degree, that is descrimination.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  34. Rasheed Lawal

    She should definitely be allow to receive her degree. I think they are confusing two issues here. She has the right to have her believes like everyone else. What she can't do is impose her personal believes on her patients. I think she understands that. The school is implying she wouldn't be able to distinguish her counseling duties and religious believes. That implication is not fair.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  35. sugg

    she should get her degree without any added requirements. this is nuts. and God bless her for standing up for her rights!

    July 28, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  36. peter

    The homesexual community has and is using the cover of multi-cultursim and civil rights to promote unnatural behavior. Adults have the right to do whatevery they want but the state should not be in the business of promoting functionally unnatural behavior.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  37. Sean

    Tell the guy on the top to shut up and listen to the arguments instead of just saying "first amendment" over and over again. She should have to complete the requirements of her degree. If the requirements of her degree include proving to her professors that she will not have an issue with this, then she must do that.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  38. jody

    Jennifer needs to abide by the schools request if she wants to become an acredited cousneling professional. I do believe that by suing the school now she has already done some damage to her reputation as a future professional. The counseling profession needs to protect their standards and even if Jennifer wins the lawsuit with the school, it may be bittersweet a she finds it difficult to become acredited by the state.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  39. Will

    I just recently graduated with a Bachelor degree in physics from a well accredited school. Although my religious believes do not match the teachings I received, I placed my personal believes to the side in order to complete the degree. Being able to distinguish the two views is one aspect I feel is one quality that one should attain while completing a degree. ASU should not have went forth with the actions they deemed necessary since similar situations occur regularly at every university. P.s. I live in Augusta, GA.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  40. Frederick Kardatzke

    @ Tony, it sounds like she is being required to take this extra training because the University feels tha she is deficiant in this area.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  41. Heath Croft

    I'd say allow her to get her degree, but refuse to allow her to be certified. Allow her to fight the big dogs instead of Augusta State. She'll learn then that she's way in over her head. I'd suggest that she take a good, long look in mirror and ask herself why she wants to be a counselor. Maybe she should join a ministry of some sort that caters to her beliefs. However, in order to work in the mainstream counseling world, she will need to put her personal feelings aside, and I'd say she is completely incapable of doing such a thing. Bottom line: she's not qualified to be a counselor.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  42. John

    Her lawyer states that her views and beliefs are protected by the first amendment ... so if she belonged to the Holy Church of Nazism and her comments were on her dislike of blacks, or if she belonged to the Religious Order of Anti Balding Men, and she hated bald guys...... would her lawyer still think she should be allowed to share her "religious" thoughts in a professional counseling setting.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  43. Kimberly A Bass

    In order to give advice to others, be it counseling, psychiatric evaluations, therapy...the person who is overseeing the patient can NOT be bias against the patient's sexual orientation, religion, political views, or personal choices. The counselor can NOT try to persuade, or belittle the patient in any way just because their views differ morally or ethically from one another. I am currently working towards my bachelor of arts in psychology and there have been a few scenarios that I have had to evaluate and analyze, and though I may not have completely agreed with the patient's views, I did NOT discriminate, belittle, or appear bias in any of the situations. She doesn't deserve to earn a degree if she is going to hold someone's sexual preference, orientation, or personal choices against them and/or make them feel bad about their lifestyle.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  44. Connie

    I don't believe this woman should be forced to take an additional course. If she has met the standard requirements, she should graduate. As a lesbian woman, I would never seek guidance from a person with hatred for who I am before I step foot in her office. I've found professionals by looking for those who specialize in gay/lesbian issues. If she specializes in Christian and right wing issues, she should be fine.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  45. Cody

    No, the very fact that she is making such a big issue out of this should show that she isn't ready for graduating.
    If she is going to put her religion before her education and will refuse to do the work that the professors need to be done, then she doesn't deserve to graduate. If I was taking a science class and refused to learn anything that conflicted with the Christian religion then I wouldn't learn a whole lot.
    This case isn't about her right to free speech it's about her being a whiney student that is used to getting everything "her" way and now since someone knocked her off her pedestal she is going to sue about it.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  46. Nelson Moore

    She's a fool what gives her the right to pass judgement on anyone? The field she's going into has so many diverse people that she'll encounter did she not know this? As a Christian we are suppose to show love and compassion to all gods children not just some all! That being said religion should not be brought into counseling unless she's doing pastoral care.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  47. Christina C.

    She is not fit to counsel anyone. Period. Christianity is SUPPOSED to be about understanding and forgiveness.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  48. June

    This smells of a set-up. I can't imagine a time in my classes at university that I would have an opportunity to get up in class and expound on my religious beliefs. I think this whole thing has been choreographed by those espousing the beliefs of Jennifer's church. A test case, in other words.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  49. George

    Forsome of you that are so attuned to science. Where is the definitive evidence that homosexuality is a natural occurence? Nature, nurture?

    Sounds to me that this isn't so much a matter of FACT vs. Belief... but rather BELIEF vs. belief. If that's the case, this is definitely a first amendment issue and August will have to settle or lose in court.

    She's completed the necessary coursework and should be conferred the degree. Perhaps her future is to be a conselor at a de-gaying camp.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  50. Akira McDonald

    The university is going way too far. Professors losing their jobs, denying people their degree is wrong! I'm not saying to judge them, but the bible says its wrong PERIOD. Why should she have to change her belief? I want to go to heaven and I'm sure she does too, should she miss that chance by conforming to wordly beliefs. I won't compromise my salvation for anyone and she shouldn't either. What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong even if everyone does it/ or turns a blind eye to it.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  51. Dwayne

    This situation would be like me saying I want to be an architect but saying I don't believe in or are terrible at math. Would you trust me to build your building or bridge if my math was questionable? Lives would obviously be at stake.

    The same with this situation. If a person comes in for counseling, there there for help, not to be judged or cast aside. The result of that would be the same as a building made based off of faulty math.

    Maybe she should look for another line of work?

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  52. Matt

    For too many years a select few Christians think they have the right to impose their views onto others. I would not want to go to her for counseling and unfortunately not everyone would know what she believes in before they go for help. A lot of times the people that speak out so much are not as Christian as they think they are. This is a good example, it seems she is judging.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  53. Edwinna Mitchell

    The information does not state whether Jennifer's teachers are signaling her out because of their interaction with her and some of the responses that she gave them. My question is does the university evaluate each student's responses on obesity, (obesity is a growing situation and persons who are obeses can be emotionally damaged by the responses of others) responses on racial diversity attitudes, tall, short attitudes, etc. In this country your emotional state of health has to be strengthened by your inner response to others. This is what counselors do, they help the individual know more about themselves and how they best can interact with others. The counselor has to be professional, sensitive, and objective based on the clients' needs and their personal beliefs cannot be remmediated in all areas. If this program has found a way to make all counselors personally objective to the special situations of all that can be discriminated against. Hooray for them. However, if not why choose just one area.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  54. Lisa Willmon

    During counselor training all students are/should have been trained to understand their own biases. No human being is bias free. They are then trained to refer out any client with whom they believe their bias may interfere. If she is required extra training for her bias, each and every other student in the program should have extra training for their biases. (ex: Can a counselor who is a former asault victim effectively counsel a client convicted of domestic violence?) It is a professional judgement decision that has to be made, and made with the client's best interest in mind. No counselor can be bias free. I believe all counselors have/will encounter potential clients who will/should be refered out. There are Christian counseling centers and Private Christian Counselors. Her ability to help that part of our population should not be eliminated because she "might" not be effective in another area.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  55. Bibi

    The goal of sensitivity training is to ensure the counselor is "empathetic" to patients of all persuasions, not to change what she believes or what they believe. This student appears to not understand the difference here. I am not sure she can be an effective counselor if she is unable to see this. I further question how she would counsel a christian youth who is struggling with her own sexuality; will she impose her christian beliefs here or would she be able to separate and employ her professional skills? The university is correct in requiring sensitivity training to ensure that they student is capable of distinguishing between personal beliefs and professional conduct.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  56. Jerry

    I am a straight atheist and even though I find christians more repulsive than gays, we all have a right to our beliefs. I can not believe this is happening in the United States. She is paying for the same course her peers are paying for and shouldn't be forced to take classes her peers don't have to take to get the same degree. Now if all the students are required to take the class it would be a different story.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  57. David

    Everyone that is defending her is wrong plain and simple. I am sorry but if your beliefs will effect how you conduct your behavior in your profession, regardless of what profession you are in, then you do not belong in that profession, you need to maintain a code of ethics.

    If her position was against African Americans, she would be getting this same reactions and backlash from the school, the only difference is most of the people that are supporting her now with not accepting gays, would feel that she is wrong for not excepting blacks! We have a double standard and we need to learn to stay consistent as a country and love and except are fellow man regardless of Race, Gender, Color, language, or sexual orientation.

    There is way too much to worry about then my religion doesn't except you. By the way what happened with Judge not lest ye be judged! Put your personal feelings aside and someone that what you became a counselor for., right!

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  58. Kim

    This is not a First Amendment issue! No one at the school said she could not say or believe what she wishes despite what her lawyer said.

    As the lawyer from Lambda mentioned, there is a difference between passing the requirements (including ethical standards) to be a counselor and one's personal views.

    You will not pass science if you insist that the earth was created 6000 years ago, but you can believe it if you like.

    This woman may well be in favor of reparative therapy, which is not a valid medical process and not practiced by any reputable counselor.

    THe faculty and administrators who wanted her to attend a cultural sensitivity program to combat her admitted belief that 'homosexuality is a 'lifestyle,' not a 'state of being.' She also once described same-sex attraction as "identity confusion," a term loaded with harmful potential and worthy of official investigation.

    From the school's memo: "Faculty have also received unsolicited reports from another student that [Miss Keeton] has relayed her interest in conversion therapy for GLBTQ populations, and she has tried to convince other students to support and believe her views."

    she cannot be pushing damaging therapy on people and also remain in good standing within her profession.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  59. Jason

    There are hundreds of professional counselors that have the same beliefs and are practicing in an appropriate professional manner and obeying all the rules. The key is to not let those beliefs affect your professional performance.

    The issue with this case is that they are not trying to educate her for her profession, they are trying to alter her personal beliefs. They should stay out of personal matters and make sure she can be a good counselor and not force her beliefs on her clients in the way the school is trying to force their beliefs on her in an inappropriate way.

    If she is in a situation she is not able to deal with, she is supposed to refer to someone who can provide better assistance. Counselors are not supposed to share personal opinion anyway, so it shouldn't even matter what she believes.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  60. Jennifer Jordan

    It sounds to me like the school isn't saying she has to change her beliefs, but rather, they want to make sure that she will be able to administer unbiased counseling to whomever she comes across. After voicing her beliefs that homosexuality is wrong, the school just wants to make sure that she will appropriately handle situations in the future so as not to emotionally or psychologically harm any of her potential clients. I am in full agreement with the schools decision to make her take extra training. If the school is going to bestow a degree on someone saying they have the ability to counsel, the school also has a responsibility to fully trust that persons abilities. If making Jennifer take extra training is something they need to do for them to be able to trust her abilities, I say they are just being a responsible university.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  61. Jon

    Education requirements have become ridiculous, my wife is a member of Phoenix University and she had to take a religious class that required her to attend an unknown church.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  62. Natasa

    I absolutely think she should attend the sensitivity training. If anything, these workshops will only help her in the future. The thing is that nobody is asking her to change her beliefs, I think the University is just trying to open her so that in the future she can do her job properly.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  63. Jim in San Diego

    Seriously??????? How can she even think that she can be an effective counselor when her beliefs are in diret conflict. Beliefs do not have an on-off switch that allow one to be "neutral". Congrats to the school for seeing this and being unwilling to support this womans nonsense that she can be an effective counselor. SHE needs counseling....wonder how that would work. Her counselor happens to be muslim and has espoused core religious issues with christianity. Is she willing to trust her emotional and mental support to this person?? Way to go Agusta!!

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  64. Steve

    Yet another attack on Christian values in this increasingly secularized society. If that's an area she is not qualified to counsel in, then she should agree to recuse herself from those matters in a professional fashion. However, to be singled out by a public institution for additional graduation requirements for personal beliefs that will not affect her counseling obligation is discrimination. Are all other students facing this increased scrutiny of their personal beliefs? I think not!

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  65. Jeff Huntigton Beach

    Religious fanatics choose these professions to enforce their beliefs or evangelize on the rest of us and I'm sick of it. This girl should not be a councilor unless it's at her church. Same goes for pharmacists. If your belief prevents you from dispensing dr. prescribed birth-control, then you have chosen the wrong profession.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  66. Elle

    As a devout Christian who believes that homosexuality is wrong, does she also believe Judgement is wrong?

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  67. Nique

    The bottom line is that this is a degree. A degree is based on a courses taken and passed. If she has passed the necessary courses, it is clear to see that if they deny her there is discrimination.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  68. Connie

    As with any profession such as nursing, Dr's, and therapists, you must put the needs of the client above your own. Know one is saying you have to now believe this and this, they only want her to be prepared and to be able to put aside her feelings in the best interest of the client. How can she take the code of her profession seriously if she cannot. If she cannot do this, she needs to choose a different profession. I have worked in health care for 30 yrs, and I have never let my beliefs override the needs of my patients.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  69. Ellen Lytle, M.A., M.Des.

    From a retired college professor: Graduate degrees are CONFERRED by the faculty (at their discretion), not AWARDED like bachelor's degrees. The faculty has every right to decide if someone meets the requirements to practice in the field. As a professional field, licensing is controlled at the educational level by the institution's faculty who decide if someone meets the requirements to practice. You can't sit for the licensing exam without having been conferred the advanced degree in the field. Same principle applies to doctors, dentists, and nurses. Professional associations accredit educational programs so that they teach what the field needs to practice. Educational institutions teach what the field's professional groups demand.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  70. Gwen Baggett

    As a Christian counselor in a secular setting for *many* years, I had no problem separating my personal moral and social beliefs from my couseling clients. It was not my job to judge or offer advice to homosexuals any more than it was to pedophiles or drug abusers, etc. My responsibility was to understand WHO and WHERE a person was and to help them resolve issues, whether their personal values aligned with my own or not. If Ms. Keaton is able to demonstrate the ability to do this, then shame on Augusta State for trying to impose *their own* values on her!!

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  71. Shannon

    Jennifer Keaton's constitutional rights aren't being broken. No where in the description of 'LGBT Sensitivity Training', or any form of sensitivity training, does it say that you must change your beliefs, religious or not. What if a male counselor held a religious belief that women are inferior and shouldn't attempt to find careers? Or a Racist counselor held a belief that Caucasians or African Americans were superior, and discriminated against one or the other? Should their beliefs hold precedence over their patients? No, their duty is to help that student, not to uphold their own beliefs while on the job. And if it takes Sensitivity training to do that, than so be it. From what I heard on the show, Keaton said both in and out of her classes that she doesn't agree with homosexuality. If she spoke about it that much, than something tells me that even with training, she wouldn't lose her beliefs, only how she deals with them face to face.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  72. Steve

    Here's an excerpt from the American Psychological Association (APA)...
    "The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation (Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith, 1981; Bullough, 1976; Ford & Beach 1951 ; Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948; Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953 ). Homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder (APA, 1975). Since 1974, the American Psychological Association (APA) has opposed stigma, prejudice, discrimination, and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and has taken a leadership role in supporting the equal rights of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals (APA, 2005)."

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  73. Melody

    Why is she not in a christian counseling program?

    The school has a responsibility to make sure its students are trained according to specific standards. If your boss feels you need extra training in an area, you better spend more time there. The University is not CHANGING her beliefs they are trying to assure that despite her beliefs she can be sensitive to all populations. She has specifically singled out gay and lesbian populations which is where they feel she needs sensitivity training. They didn't say she needed sensitivity with jewish, muslim or other opposing religious groups.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  74. Mac

    It's embarrasing that an educated graduate student can't seperate her morals beliefs from her ethical obligations. The university's action is justified, in that they are only trying to protect the rights of the individuals being counseled.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  75. Dennis

    I believe she should quit wasting hers and everyone elses time and quit now. She already shows a preconceived view of a person and cannot be unbiased to help those that come to her.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  76. Gary G

    Bigotry and intolerance justified by religion is no less harmful than when justified by hate or ignorance. If one is to be a counselor for all children, it is important that they have the ability to set aside personal beliefs and accept the supportive role they have chosen to follow. They must be able to counsel someone that does not share their same beliefs. This does not require changing ones beliefs, but rather learning tolerance of other life choices, lifestyles and beliefs. Education includes the teaching of inclusiveness.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  77. Jacquelyn

    Given that a psychological counselor's professional activity must include both empathy and objectivity, perhaps a person expecting to apply personal rather than professional standards in her practice interactions with clients should ask herself if she would be able to trust and be assisted by a therapist openly hostile to herself and her beliefs.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  78. CurtisR

    It is irresponsible of the University to be making an issue of this. There is no reason not to give this individual a degree if she can meet the scholastic requirements. Period, end of story.

    We who are citizens or legal residents are protected by the Constitution and are born with certain inalienable rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The University is violating this principle. It is violating her First Amendment Rights.

    We do not give up these rights just because we choose to be a doctor, councellor or other such position.

    The fact that she has stated that due to her religiously held beliefs she feels that homosexuality is a sin, does not mean that she will not be a good councellor.

    If a homosexual were to come to her for counselling and his or her lifestyle were to come out during the session, she would have two options – and they are valid, both of them – if the professed behavior is not related to the purpose of councelling, she could continue councelling. If, however, she became of the belief that this individuals behavior is the root cause of the reason for councelling, she must, at that point, lovingly inform the individual that she can no longer continue the session AND refer him or her to a councellor who doesn't have the same moral conviction.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  79. Keath

    How effective could she be as a counselor, if she is narrow minded? She should change her Major to religeous studies. I do not know of any counselors who only see people that are just like them! The world is a beautiful diverse place it's time everyone understand that and embrace it! No graduation without diversity training!!

    July 28, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  80. Jessica

    So, if a student expresses atheist beliefs inside and outside class, will they be told that they must participate in a remediation program where they must attend religious church services and other religious events? Will they be forced to spend time associating with religious people and learning about their beliefs in order to obtain a degree?

    July 28, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  81. Dan Ketell

    If your a homosexual and you die today you will go to hell.Thats the bottom line, she is following her beliefs and is not a biggot it would be immoral for her to tell her patients its alright to be homosexual because its not and if they don't change there ways and repent they will suffer for enterity for it.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  82. Samy Selim

    The therapeutic relationship is governed by a code of ethics that is unfortunately missing from many faith based counselors. This is just another example of how humans distort the message of Christ in order to create division for their own purpose. I understand that a therapist should not be forced to work with a population they feel uncomfortable with, however, the ability and desire to build rapport is the cornerstone of a successful therapy. Kyra should have considered this before waisting her time, and in all probability, that of her client's. Kyra, ask yourself this: What Would Jesus Do?

    July 28, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  83. Mary

    She has a constitutional right to her religious beliefs. She does not, however, have a constitutional right to be a counselor. If she cannot fulfil the requirements of the program, then she should not be allowed to have a degree – her religious beliefs cannot be used as a shield which allows her to obtain a degree in a field where she can do significant psychological harm to others, even though she refuses to adhere to the program's requirements.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  84. Erik

    As a person in training for another field altogether (acting) i have found that if i had certain religious and moral stipulations my training would in many cases fail due to the nature of the program that I am enrolled in. Should there be an instance where these conundrums interfere with the quality of work that I produce by the standards of the school then I would probably have failed by now or the administrators at the school would have suggested that I leave the program because i was unable to perform up to their standards. If this school in it's program sees an unmet standard of compassion for their fellow human beings i can see why they have the right to refuse to put their stamp of approval on this persons diploma. If I were a an aryan nation enthusiast fighting for my right to counsel others of the same ilk, would i be able to get a degree from an institution because they can't object to my personal beliefs? Probably not because the institution has a name to defend. perhaps the person deserves their tuition returned but if she refused to take part in what they decided was a necessary part of their education then it is her fault.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  85. Chuck B

    The USA is at a dangerous precipice, reminding me of the thought police of "1984" and the brainwashing done by the government decades ago in China, Cambodia and Vietnam. Are we reaching the point where any value not held by the schools or government is worthy of being changed through sensitivity training? A counselor is always going to have some belief or value different from the client. We are all unique. The issue is not what values a counselor holds but whether that counselor will listen to, love and respect each client and only act in the clinet's best interests. A real Christian should always treat people in that manner.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  86. Gwen Baggett

    HOW and WHY are people so BLIND to dsicrimination when it is directed at people whose values are not "politically correct," which is a whole sham in itself??

    July 28, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  87. Will

    If Jenn can demonstrate that she is capable of dealing ethically with gays and lesbians, then legally she should be allowed the degree. However, I fear that Jenn is incapable of appropriately divorcing herself from her beliefs in a professional setting. Our beliefs inform our actions. Bigoted people should not have jobs that create the potential for them to influence the public, especially not children.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  88. grrace

    Go be "christian," be free. Perhaps counseling is a poor career choice for bigots, just as science would be poor career choice for "creationists."

    July 28, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  89. Morgan

    What people seem to misunderstand here is this: they are not denying her graduation because she is Christian. Is she allowed to believe what she wants? Yes. But the code of ethics forbids her from allowing those beliefs to influence those of a client.

    The issue here is that she voiced out against homosexuality, and this is where the problem arises and this extra sensitivity course comes in. The idea is not to change her beliefs, but to help her recognize people as people, and not by their personal beliefs, lifestyle, sexual orientation, etc..

    July 28, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  90. Raquel Molina

    Just because you have a belief it doesn't mean you're to change the programs curriculum or requirements they see fit to graduate. I am an RN and I can't tell you how many hurdles I had. Part of being a professional is meeting the requirements that are required by your professor. She seriously needs a reality check.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  91. Linda Autry

    As Americans we have the right to believe what we want to believe. That has nothing to do with getting a diploma or not. We as Americans should still be able to do our job and believe what we believe without others trying to change that. If her grades suggest that she graduate then she should be able to do exactly that. We choose who we see as councelors an if someone chooses her then find out she does not believe how they believe they have the right to go some where else.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  92. Clifford

    I have grown into someone with very open views even though I was raised in a family with the belief that homosexuality was wrong. Still I accept people for what they are and I do not discriminate.I was upset to see someone like jennifer ,who chose to spend her life helping people but to get rejected because of her views.She never said she wouldn't help homosexuals , she has to , given the job she chose. She simply won't parade with them.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  93. Rz

    She is going into the wrong profession, If she does not want to possibly have to deal with a vulnerable child, who says he/she is Gay, then she's not councellor material. Thats why they have councillors? to help and support the person, She could be very risky putting into that profession. I say the university is right on in giveing her an ultimatum. Get into another field Jennifer, councilling obviously wouldnt be your forte' ! You would be too bias, I certainly wouldnt want to go talk to a councillor and have them turn around and give me the wrong advise that could possibly ruin my life, because of their beliefs.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  94. Xavier

    What is this insane desire by this country for homosexuality acceptance? Man was made for woman, woman was made for man. Parts that don't fit are parts that don't fit!! Clearly the ideals our country was built on ('In GOD we trust) have been discarded for Satan's ideals which obviously are destroying the United States of America and the world. History has revealed that a Godless country or government was destroyed by Jehovah God.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  95. Ilana

    As a future social worker I understand the importance of sensitivity training pertaining to all cultures including the culture of LGBTQ individuals. In the world we live in with many beliefs and a wide range of needs for our clients it is imperative that she gains knowledge and cultural sensitivity for all people regardless of her beliefs. I find it extremely hard to believe that a school which is training future counselors would be so insensitive as to tell her she must change her beliefs but i understand their concern about giving a license to somebody who has been so outspoken about her negativity toward a group of people. It is extremely important for people who will be working with people to get in touch with their own values and beliefs in order to ensure that they will be causing no harm to their clients, they need to figure out where their own values may get in the way of helping a client the best she can. If she has been outspoken and divisive in the classroom, enough that this remediation plan was even called into question that means that sensitivity training may very well be needed. Also, if she is not willing to even undergo the sensitivity training, not meaning her beliefs must change but her sensitivity toward another must change then yes, i believe the school is completely justified in making sure she undergoes this training to ensure that the reputation of the school and of all counselors are not in danger

    July 28, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  96. Kat

    Oh yeah! Someone else mentioned abortion...I'm sure her religious beliefs would preclude her from assisting a patient with the lingering emotional effects of that choice. Women like her also tend to think that rape is the fault of victim..."what did they do to deserve it?"

    Just watching her on CNN makes me think that she's completely incapable of being objective with future clients. I wouldn't want to take that first big step in finding a counselor, spill my dirty laundry, then find out after spending $150 that this person judges me and doesn't think I'm fit to counsel because of their beliefs? Seems to me like that would do damage. If she does get her degree, she might as well put up a website and yellow pages ad that warns people ahead of time lest they be judged and waste their precious time and energy.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  97. Zach

    She shouldn't have to change her beliefs, but she should have to change her career goals. I (a devout Catholic) happen to believe that usery is a sin, but I would have to put aside this belief if I hoped to be a banker; she should have to do the same with her feelings about gays if she hopes to be a counselor.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  98. Stephen R. Collier

    The religious right wants the "freedom" to inflict their religious views onto gays and gay supporters. Yes, they have the right to believe homosexuality is wrong, but they fundamentally don't have the right to use the law to enforce it. You can't use the First Amendment to trump the First Amendment.

    Stephen
    Virginia Beach

    July 28, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  99. Donna

    Counseling 101: Counselor must be able to provide an objective, nonjudgemental environment. Ms Keaton has proved she would not be able to do this based on her personal beliefs. No one is arguing that she is right or wrong in her belief, but she, herself, decided to place a limit on her own ability to be an effective counselor by expressing her beliefs. Perhaps she should seek a degree in which her personal philosophy has little effect on her work!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  100. Jessica Marshman

    The question here is whether or not it is possible for someone with Jennifer's beliefs to be supportive of a homosexual client. As long as she does not express and/or impose her personal beliefs on her clients, she should not be treated differently than other graduates. It seems that people are prematurely assuming that her views will come into play in the clinical setting. In the United States, people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  101. Sherry

    As a very recent graduate in social work I understood the code of ethics before starting the program. I was disappointed attending classes with a woman obviously biased as Jennifer. She was only called out by other students never by a professor. It is time our educational system stand behind the code of ethics they require students to adhere to.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  102. Steve

    Jennifer has a right to express her beliefs and should not have them held against her. It was stated that this “sensitivity” training would help her in her work counseling homosexuals; personally, I don’t accept this theory. What I am reading between the lines is just another attempt to have our values stripped from us by forcing us to “accept” these lifestyles.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  103. Stormie

    I was a receptionist in a psychiatric office for almost three years and have talked to my former employers about religious beliefs while I was working there. They have told me that religion has no place inside of a counseling session. And the psychologist who told me this is roman catholic and at the time they were counseling a gay/lesbian. When I asked them does this violate your beliefs and they told me that our beliefs do not matter inside of a counseling session only the mental health of the patient does.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  104. Jason

    I agree that the need of the client surpasses the need or beliefs of the provider. I don't believe that there should be a special course for gay sensitivity. Gays are humans like the rest of us and should not be treated in any other fashion, either for the good or bad. If a counselor cannot put aside personal bias of any form they are in the wrong field. The sexual prefrences of an individual should be no more a factor than race or religious beliefs.

    Jason
    St. clair shores, MI.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  105. Bill

    To be an effective counselor, one must be nonjudgmental towards their clients. This student has a constitutional right to express her beliefs, but that does not guarantee a right to graduate and become accredited as a counselor. Perhaps she can start her own specialized christian counseling association but would suggest this "road sign" warning: Caution, minds narrow ahead!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  106. Gordon G.

    I believe that this question demonstrates that there is a difference between an individuals personal and professional lives. I am pretty confident that many (if not all) professional counselors possess biases that would exclude them from the Professional Code of Ethics as it is written today. I further believe that if these codes begin to dictate life outside of the professional setting, we will have a tremendous breach of the first amendment. The code of ethics must restrict itself to, in this case, counselling sessions proper.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  107. Nick

    As a gay person myself, I agree with Jennifer on this. Whether you are for or against homosexuality shouldn't prevent you from graduating, unless the class is mandatory for graduation.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  108. George

    The first amendment does not give someone the right to say or believe whatever they want. Civilized society does not and should not allow bigotry of any kind. At this point this woman would be an incompetent counselor; perhaps remediation can change that.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  109. Haleigh

    Any psychology student knows that personal beliefs must be set aside when dealing with clients. It is the counselor's obligation to remain objective, compassionate, and fair. If ASU feels this woman needs sensitivity training in order to remain objective, then they have the right to deny her degree if she does not follow through. As a counselor she will be representing ASU, and considering ASU is a public institution, they need to be viewed as unbiased and accepting. You wouldn't be comfortable with your doctor judging you for medical conditions, so why should a client have to deal with a self-righteous counselor judging them for their preferences?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  110. Kelly

    They're not forcing her to take the sensitivity training because she's a Christian, they're forcing her to take it because she's very outspoken about her feelings about homosexuality. If it was because she was a Christian, all the other Christian students would be asked to take it too; but it's just her.

    She's allowed to believe that it's wrong as long as she doesn't force these beliefs on a young, impressionable children. Counselors are supposed to be unbiased when giving treatment. They can believe whatever they want outside of the office, but when they're in the office, they're there for the patients' beliefs, not their own.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  111. Bruce

    how can she call her self a christian if she doesn't stand on that belief. It wouldn't be a belief then! isn't right.!!!!!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  112. VAN SMITH

    the term 'Christian Psychologist' is in my mind an oxymoron! If you are a non-Christian seek help wherever you may find it, if you are a Christian then seek help from the God who lives within you! if you are a Christian who wishes to help non-Christians be sure to be sufficiently trained by the Holy Spirit! Psychology is the 'worldly' spirituality and is as such a 'false' spirituality!

    by the way last time I looked the Theory of Evolution was confined to within a species?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  113. jeremy

    Are any gay, lesbian or trans-gender counseling students required to take sensitivity training regarding Christian or other religious views on homosexuality? Certainly they may face Christian people struggling with accepting family members or friends who are gay and will these counselors be able to help those individuals within the context of their beliefs? Are we saying that gay, lesbian or trans-gender individuals are more capable of dissociating their professional conduct and personal beliefs than a Christian individual? One way streets are always dangerous.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  114. Jay

    Jenn needs to realize that sexuality is not a choice. I'm living proof that same sex attraction is not a choice, it's something I've lived with all my life. I know I was born this way, and it's just who I am. Unfortunately it's close minded people who like to think otherwise and make homosexuals feel like something is wrong with them. The belief that you are a despicable human being just because you happen to be a homosexual is going to destroy so many lives. Luckily for me, I've come to the realization that a few close minded people aren't going to ruin my life and make me an unhappy person, constantly struggling to "cure" something that might be wrong with me. It's too bad that other young adults out there who are just coming out might not be as lucky and get a close minded counselor that will ultimately do more harm than good.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  115. Bernie

    Kyra,
    I'm a licensed professional counselor (LPC). Licensing means we have fulfilled the educational requirements of the license, fulfilled the requirements of showing by actual practice (practicum/internship) that we can be completely impartial in our work, and agree to do our best to help our clients overcome whatever brought them to us. Following the state code of ethics is part of maintaining licensure. In this state the code is almost, if not identical to that of the ACA. If she refuses to undergo the additional course work Jennifer should earn her masters degree, but not in counseling. She also should not be "credentialed" or licensed by the state because her beliefs, so overtly displayed, run contrary to parts of the ACA code of ethics. It would be very, very difficult for her to be impartial when faced with a client who's life or beliefs differ from hers, which seem to be so strongly held. Impartiality is the most important behavior for a counselor. An alternative to Jennifer would be for her to become a Christian counselor, but thereto one must be able to be completely impartial, at least when working with a client.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  116. Ernest Gallo

    The student should be allowed to take her degree without being made to take a course of supposed remediation. If as a counselor she substitutes her personal beliefs for sound practice, then she may lose her license.

    The principle here is that predispositions are not acts: only acts can justify a punitive response. There is a parallel discussion about biology students who reject evolution (I actually had one in class!). They certainly must be allowed to take their degrees. If they teach their classes that evolution is false or even not supported to a high degree of certainty, very likely they should lose that position. If they do research guided by their anti-evolutionary stance, they have a fat chance of succeeding, so here the case is self correcting.

    Full disclosure: I strongly advocate both gay rights and freedom of opinon,

    July 28, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  117. Vicki McMorrough

    I am also a professional counselor and during my education we had a similiar issue with a man who was a priest. His beliefs were not the issue. It was the comments during class disucssions and during role play exercises that indicated how he would behave with a client who held differing values.

    I believe there is much more to this story. Her comments about her beliefs in conjunction with her beliefs about clients are much more likely causing the concern that her religious views. Many counselor canidates are christian but are able to refrain from imposing their views on others. The ethical thing for any counselor to do if they encounter a client with whom they do not believe they are able to work for any reason is to treat them with kindness and postitive regard but let them know they will help them find a counselor for them who is a better fit.

    I was very damaged at age 16 by a counselor when I was going through issues related to my sexual orientation and rather than just listen to me, she told me it was "just a phase." I got the clear idea she was uncomfortable with it and did not bring it up again, despite the fact it was my main reason for going to counseling in the first place.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  118. cole

    I believe this whole story is a little more complex than what is being said. It does not appear that she has ever made a statement that she will discriminate between students based on her belief. If that is true I do not believe that she should have to take this special course. The university is walking a tight rope with this and giving itself special powers to determine if a person should have to take extra courses because of some belief of theirs. If this holds true, then shouldn't they make all people whom are gaining education degrees to teach sciences, but publicly express their religious beliefs, attend special courses to make sure their beliefs do not interrupt their teaching.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  119. John Preston

    Allowing Jennifer to skip a remediation course in understanding the LBGT community would be as stupid as allowing a right-wing economics major to skip a course in macroeconomics because they disagreed with Keynesian economics. Jennifer should not be allowed to graduate. Personal beliefs, religiously based or not, have no place in a counseling sesion.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  120. John

    This is another attempt to attack a persons Christian beliefs and values and it’s a real shame when this nation was founded on those beliefs it is a never ending struggle. Here in California we have the gay marriage struggle when God created Adam and Eve not otherwise.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  121. herman hines

    Why didn't You ask the Guy on the right side of the screen, if He was gay. That Woman and That Guy ought to be called out, They have an agenda. I and alot of People would like to know where Your Guest stand, I am straight and would like to know other Peoples stand, if they are not ashamed to admit it. And if You ask a question with a yes or no answer, don't let Them go off on some line of bull, just a simple YES or NO, that's all. Thank You.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  122. Rachel

    While they cannot require her to change her religious beliefs to graduate, it is their job not to graduate any person who they feel is not ready to be a counselor. She is unprepared to help someone who seeks counseling for issues surrounding gender or sexuality. There are safeguards in most programs that allow the professors to require things like the education classes. They are not asking her to "change her religious beliefs," as the policy states. They are asking her to become more acquainted with part of the population she will serve in order to dissuade her bias against a group of people. Would they graduate an obvious racist? No. It is unethical and horrible for their reputation. So in order to protect her potential future clients, and secondarily their reputation, they have a duty not to graduate her. They probably have language in their handbook about being required to fill gaps in their training through remedial work and if it is not fulfilled to the chairperson's standards, she will not graduate. All of this information is usually found in a program's graduate student handbook, which each graduate student is required to sign that they have a copy of it and have read it.

    Perhaps she should have attended a pastoral or religious counseling program. Possibly, she could still transfer to one.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  123. KJ

    What fear is overwhelming this student? Is she afraid that her core beliefs will be shattered? If she has strong convictions on the matter, they won't change. Does being a Christian mean you are insensitive, and intolerant? Take the sensitivity training and if you choose, only work with an organization that embraces your beliefs.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  124. Jeffrey Wells

    If Miss. Keaton wanted to vocally express her views, that violated the state code of ethics she could have chosen to go to a Christian college and received a Christian counseling degree there she could express her view until she is blue in the face, and her views wouldn't effect the general public.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  125. Ihek, NY

    I side with the university in this case. Your degree will read that the university senate has judged you to be qualified in character and education. You do not go to university for education alone. You also learn to coexist with others in the larger society after graduation. The university is saving Jennifer now from a larger problem in the workplace in the future. She will lose her job in the future if she does not get along with a gay co-worker. This case ought to be an easy one for the judges and for the university. Jennifer will lose this case. She is better off withdrawing her lawsuit and take the sensitivity class.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  126. Linda Yedowitz

    Freedom of Speech is going away and I applaud Jennifer for her statement of her belief. Does this mean she will not be a good counselor, certainly not. This is just her rights and view of her life. ASU is in fact forcing Jennifer to not practice Freedom of Speech. Here again, we are seeing our freedoms going down the tube.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  127. Jenna G

    The first amendment argument is worthless in this situation. The purpose of collegiate remediation is to correct a defective behavior being displayed by the student. Some commentators view the existence of remedial or developmental courses as evidence that many of today's college students are not academically strong enough to manage college-level work and should not have been admitted into college in the first place (Harwood, 1997; Marcus, 2000; Trombley, 1998). Obviously there was some problem here to begin with, or else the professional opinions of ASU instructors which required this "extra" task of the student would have been questioned higher up the ladder. Being a counselor means having tolerance and understanding which are 2 characteristics she is apparently lacking. Last time I checked, Christianity upholds paitence, tolerance, and understanding as well as not judging others.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  128. Michele Yarberry

    This is an outrage! I, too, was singled out and discriminated against for my Biblical stand and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. A lesbian professor threatened my eligibility for entrance into the counseling program at Adams State College, because I chose to exit the room during a viewing of a movie about a homosexual couple that looked as though it was to become sexually explicit. I informed her that I would not subject myself to viewing a heterosexual couple having sex. She interpreted my stand and constitutional right as intolerance to the GLBT population. My faith in the Lord and personal relationship with the Livning God makes me a much more sensitive, loving, caring, and well-rounded person. Professionally, God's grace allows me to accept and relate to people of all diverse backgrounds, knowing that He loves them just as much as He does me.

    It is an obvious attack, because this courageous woman of God proclaimed her Christian faith. I stood alone in my counseling co-hort in my faith, but at the end of the semester, was recognized for standing strong. Others admitted they wished they could do the same.

    What we believe and live is not to be tailored according to our profession. Our behavior, however, must be. I am confident that my Georgian sister in Christ, conducts herself ethically and professionally, just as I do, in the professional context. You go, girl, and I will be lifting you and this situation in prayer--REMEMBER, GREATER IS HE WHO IS IN US, THAN HE WHO IS IN THE WORLD.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  129. Steven

    It is evident that Jennifer should not be a counselor of any sort. She is clearly not open to learning about this important issue as a matter of diversity. Her quest to push her religious views as a way to circumvent the school's curriculum is a clear example of hate. I stand by the school 100%.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  130. Emily

    I have actually encountered anti-gay bias from a counselor. It has taken me several years to find a therapist that doesn't judge me for being gay . This has been a very frustrating and painful process to finally meet a therapist I can trust completely to be open and listen to everything I say with no judgment. To have a person immediately tense up as soon as you say, "... so my girlfriend and I..." is so difficult to get over. I've had to go without therapy for months/years at a time on occasion because a different counselor wasn't available, and I couldn't work with the one that was due to their anti-gay bias. I have finally gotten to the point that I ask as my first thing in a session with someone new, "Do you have any problem with me being gay? If so, let me know, and I'll find someone else." It's surprising how many counselors/therapists I have encountered that, after being confronted by me – sometimes several sessions into a counseling relationship – will admit that they are uncomfortable with working with me in general (or just on my issues surrounding my sexuality).

    Something that wasn't mentioned during your segment, Kyra, was that a lot of patients/clients DON'T HAVE A CHOICE IN WHO THEY SEE for counseling. This creates major problems when a counselor doesn't agree with a client's lifestyle, as the relationship between them is under constant strain – the counselor has to constantly fight their negative judgments about the client in order to work with that client, and may not be effective in their job because of those judgments. Honestly, sensitivity training should be mandatory FOR ALL STUDENTS, not just this one. If a therapist/counselor can't get past their own biases – no matter where those biases stem from (religion, experiences, etc.) – they will not be effective in helping their patients/clients with whatever is confronting them.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  131. Susan

    This lady should have gone to a Christian university. She should have been aware that public universities represent diversity. I would not want this woman counseling in a public school and if she counsels in the private sector she should immediately make her beliefs known before working with a client and the clinic if she isn't in private practice. Counselors need to be neutral and put their beliefs aside. Obviously with her outspoken views on homosexuality, it would be difficult for her to work with students who are out of the "closet" or just coming out.
    One of my chldren "came out of the closet" while in college. He had been recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes an autoimmune disease which can also affect other parts of the body. Unknowingly he developed hypothyroidism which can cause depression. My son became suicidal. He willingly sought counseling but was uncomfortable talking about his sexuality based on how his counselor spoke to him, religious undertones in the counselors dialogue. My son stopped going to the counselor. Luckily, my son was soon diagnosed with hypothyroidism and is doing well on medication. My son will never go back any sort of therapy again unless he knows the counselor is open-minded to his homosexuality.
    I think it is very dangerous to have people like this woman with narrow-minded views working with people. Christianity has nothing to do with it. I know many Christians who are gay and lesbians and I know many straight Christians who see nothing wrong with homosexuality. This lady is just hiding behind her religion for her homophobic views which makes me wonder what her thoughts are of other people who don't think like her. What if she is going to be counseling a Muslim student or a black student. I wonder what her true beliefs are on these people and will she be able to stay neutral and open-minded in dealing with their individual situations and problems. I am very doubtful she will be an effective and helpful counselor with those who don't think like her.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  132. Mike D

    Why isn't this a double standard. What happens to heterosexuals students that agree with Jennifer Keaton, will gay counselors be required to take "sensitivity training” to work with heterosexual students?

    If Jennifer has a student that is "struggling" with their sexuality, why isn't that student referred to a "Gay" counselor that would be "sensitive" to their needs?

    This is retarded!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  133. Jeanie

    Jennifer doesn't need “sensitivity training” in order to get her diploma I stand behind the First Amendment, I think she is being singled out and this is disgusting. It's apparent that the University is being prejudice against Jennifer for her Christian belief's and I think they have gone too far!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  134. GetAgrippa

    Well we need to hear ASU's side of the story. All counselors should take a NPOV when it comes to their profession as the counselor's code of ethics forbids discrimination based on sexuality and sexual identity, but also specifically mentions religion too. So despite her Christian faith she has to leave her beliefs at the door and counsel Muslims, Hindus, etc. too. We all have to wear different hats at times. Now if ASU is specifically discriminating against her because of her religious beliefs then they would be breaking their own code of ethics. I don't belief Georgia acknowledges the association or the code for licensing so that may play into the equation. I find it difficult to believe the university would blatantly discrimination so I believe there has to more to the story.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  135. Kelly

    If Jennifer Keaton is unwilling to participate in a remediation program because she believes it is an attempt by Augusta State University to change her religious beliefs, then perhaps she will feel it is also a violation of her right to religious freedom when a future client wishes to discuss his or her non-heterosexual orientation during a counseling session. Refusing to speak to a non-heterosexual client because of their sexuality could be interpreted by that client as a sign of condemnation and could result in the client's further psychological or physical harm. To not attempt to prevent that harm from taking place would position ASU as a irresponsible institution.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  136. Chandace

    The purpose of a remediation program is not to change the beliefs of the counselour, it is to teach the counselour unconditional positive regard for the individuals they help. We learn this in basic training for crisis hotlines. As a master's student she should understand this instead of making it into an attack against her beliefs.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  137. Jimo

    I don't see the difference with state bars refusing to admit racists as they would be unable to give full and complete devotion to serving all potential clients. Being a certified counselor is a privilege not a right.

    If this young lady wants to counsel yet maintain her bias I suggest she seek a seminary.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  138. Ken

    Jennifer has the right to believe what the Bible teaches. As most of this country has forgotten, our Great Nation was founded on God's Holy Word which states that homosexuality is a sin, and disagreeing with it does not make her a bigot, that's what makes her a Christian! Many of us don't accept killers, child molesters, rapists, drug adicts, etc., those are sins and I'm sure many couselors out there would not overlook that, as they would like you to think. Just because she doesn't agree with how they live their lives, she should not be singled out for that reason. She can still make a great counselor despite her Christian faith, and most likely a better one, at that. My suggestion to Jenn is to look at joining the NANC – National Association of Nouthetic Counselors; her views will be well accepted there.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  139. Ardell Ferguson

    Doctors whose religious beliefs do not agree with women getting abortions or women using contraceptions were not denied their degrees or forced to have 'sensistivity' classes. Why should Kyra deny her religious beliefs to get a degree in counseling? I believe that she should attend workshops for a limited time but not forced to write monthly papers without her being able to express her views. She should not be forced to attend LGBT activities which clearly is against her beliefs & the bible. Are LGBs forced to attend 'straight' activities before getting their degrees in counseling?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  140. Bill from Greensboro

    This wing nut fundy should have enrolled in Falwell's Liberty University where the faculty would undoubtedly be more 'supportive' of her position. Augusta State was bending over backwards trying to work with her by offering an alternative educational plan to permit her to complete the program in lieu of the standard curriculum (which this young woman was not completing successfully).

    If you get a job at Tires Are Us, and a Toyota comes in the door, you can't say "I don't change tires on Toyotas because I don't believe in foreign cars". Your belief may or may not be valid, but you won't be employed as a tire changer for very long.

    This woman needs to subordinate her personal opinions and get with the program!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  141. Keith

    Question: Knowing that this is a college of thinkers, there had to have been someone who was an Atheist and openly opposed Kyra’s religious views. If so, was an assignment given to the Atheist whom opposed Kyra’s views, requiring this person to attend Christian/Religious activities, read the Bible and write about the importance of Christian/Religious beliefs in the lives of people?

    If not…why not?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  142. betty

    I have been a Social Worker for 23 years 15 of those with an M.S.W. I don't always agree with the views or the lifestyles of my clients, HOWEVER, I often put my personal views on the back burner in order to render the best possible care to those that I am fortunate to care for.
    I fear for those who fall into the hands of individuals that are narrowminded , like this gal. To be honest, I would not recommend or hire her in ANY CAPACITY!!! To be honest, she needs to choose another profession. If she can't keep her views out ot the therapeautic setting, she quite frankly, needs another profession. She would do best to volunteer at her church answering phones, therefore, she will only come into contact with those whose views fall into line with hers. She is not fit to be in our profession and I am thrilled the University is making an example of her, she shouldn't be a position to re-vicitmize the LGBT Community.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  143. Sharman

    Yes, she should have to go through the remediation program. I wouldn't want this woman to counsel me on any issue. Her religious beliefs are already intruding on her professionalism because of her resistance to the program she signed up for. Additionally, I think all professionals should have to make their religious beliefs known so that they neither waste the time of their clients nor do any harm to them. Religious beliefs of professionals I have encountered have harmed me. Sometimes their prejudice is like a sudden knife in the back, and the money one pays for 'services rendered' is not refundable. Standards of impartiality are absolutely necessary. At the very least, a patient or client should be able to protect himself/herself from abuse before the money changes hands. I also think the professional standards are mandatory. What good is licensing without standards?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  144. Ed

    Should counseling students who strongly condemn adults' having sex with children be required to undergo remediation to help them overcome their bias against pedophilia? Isn't there a danger that their judgmental attitudes will interfere with their counseling of pedophiles?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  145. deena

    I don't agree with this decision it is unconstitutional. Unless the school is making everyone take the same requirements. Kyra is not the only student in that degree plan that has her beliefs. She was just the only one that was courageous enough to state it.Are there remediation classes for racists? this is sad that America can't figure out when freedom of speech should be a freedom!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  146. Dan

    Jennifer, stand your ground. There is NO bigotry in this what so ever. God didn't create eve for eve or steve for steve. He created Male (Adam) and Female (Eve) as a companion for man.
    As a Christian, I am called to love all. God loves all;however, there are certain things that he HATES, and homosexuality is one of them. It goes against God's creation.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  147. Marion Roberson, III

    I attend ASU, and with the national accreditation which many state licensing boards for counseling require the individual who qualifies for the counselor's license must be able to serve a diverse range of clients, regardless of the counselors' personal views.
    If she showed any level of intolerance towards any person's lifestyle due to her own beliefs she would not be performing to the standards set by the organization which establishes the licensing guidelines.

    She can reject, or disagree with homosexuality as much as she personally desires, as long as she has not shown the potential for not performing up to standards set by a licensing board from which she desires to receive a license.

    As far as the school goes, if they grant her the degree, they would be certifying that she is indeed 'prepared' to meet national guidelines, although she may have expressed sentiments to the contrary.

    My opinion, she should have kept her personal beliefs personal, and realized the field she is entering is going to expose her to a diversity of clientale who will not be always of her choosing if she is going to succeed in this field.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  148. Jean M. Tosh

    It is an obligation of Counselor Educators to ensure that ethical standards are upheld. As a school counselor with thirty-one years of experience, I can assure you that as such you will encounter a diverse student population. For many students you will be their lifeline and being accepting is a character pre-requisite for any counselor. Sensitivity training is a minimum intervention and does not impact on one's constitutional rights.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  149. Roscoe

    As a Christian I applaud her for standing up for her beliefs. Thats nothing against homosexuals as people. I know many homosexuals believe that all Christians hate them, but that is not the case. And if you are reading this and are a homosexual and have experienced hate from a Christian, I apologize for that. We are not against any of you as human beings as I stated, but against the sin of homosexuality, and we do have to stand firm on what the Bible says concerning the issue. It says to stand against the act and the sin, but don't hate the individual. So in this case if she felt a personal conviction and that she was compromising her beliefs, then she is doing the right thing.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  150. Jordan

    In a country that has the freedom of religion, no one should be forced to violate there religious and moral beliefs in a public institution. (especially when the religion happens to be the dominant religion of the country)
    @Steve, Evolution isn't called an abomination in the bible, in fact it's not even mentioned in the bible.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  151. andre

    I tink the university, and whoever else that believes she has to change her core beliefs, are wrong. I don't believe that anybody has the right to make anyone compromise who they are for any reason. This is what she believes and noone should make her take any classes to change that. Where do we get off telling people how and what to think? What happened to freedom of expression?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  152. Bruce

    I'm glad for my children not being forced to learn about evolution, I wouldn't allow it anyways,

    July 28, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  153. Javin Atreides

    I fail to understand why it is that religious beliefs are once again conflicting with intelligent advancement of our civilization. Why is it that we continue to be held back by archaic belief systems that have no scientific basis or place in our advanced society? We cannot move forward as a species if we continue to be close minded to each other. I believe that it is okay to have whatever belief system you want and follow those values and teachings freely…but as a counselor you should not be bias towards any one set of beliefs or values and if this lady from GA were a true Christian she would not be so judgmental or negative towards gay people. I am gay and I know how it feels to run into a Counselor who is opposed to gay values and morals. Counselors should not be allowed to be licensed if they have issues with anyone…sounds to me like she is Homophobic.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  154. Tim

    It sounds like the school is fulfilling their obligation to teach, and she has strong biases that would impair her ability to be an effective counselor. If she has such a strong prejudice against a persons sexual orientation, then she should seek counseling in order to seek a different career.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  155. Dana

    If she has such strong religious beliefs in regards to homosexuality, the she should attend a religious university and get her degree there. There certainly is a place for her in the private system as a religious counselor. However, she is at a public university that cannot allow her to discriminate and has an ethical responsibility in training her to the fullest extent to be able to meet the requirements by state certification, there is a code of ethics. No one is saying she has to change HER beliefs, but she cannot demonstrate those discriminatory beliefs in working with clients. That is for the protection of clients who could be damaged by her beliefs. If she cannot handle that, then she should get out of this field. The idea that she would never have a client that is LGBT or might be having issues with sexuality is not real world at all. I would NOT want this woman being a counselor at a high school or college where these issues could come up frequently. What would she say? Would she tell the student they were wrong and going to hell? This is the problem. Her beliefs can not be put on her clients...it is not about her, it is about the Client, she WORKS for them!!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  156. Mikyla

    I personally think that this student doesn't want to take this class. Her religion's beliefs will not be changed at all just as when I took classes on evolution doesn't mean I believe it at all. If she wants to be a counselor she can't turn down people who are gay because it's a counselor's jobs are to help all people. Discrimination would be against the constitution not making her take the class. The class is simply because she has little experience like if someone takes classes in high school they don't need to retake them in college.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  157. Kate M.

    I agree with Brandon C. above. The news story is not relating what events exactly caused the university to make this decision. She may have behaved in a completely intolerable way that we are unaware of. As a person in any helping profession, an individual must be prepared to help a variety of different clients. This holds true for doctors, counselors, teachers, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, etc. If she were studying to become a teacher, would she refuse to teach a student that was gay? She is absolutely ridiculous. I think that she should be allowed to receive her degree. However, she has to be licensed in order to practice, and I don't think she should be eligible for licensure until she has proven that she is able to serve her clients without discrimination. And claiming that this is all because of her religion!!! How dare she! A true Christian loves their neighbor. I know many Christians that are appalled by her behavior in the name of God. I am a psychology student myself and am disgusted by her behavior.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  158. Collette/Oregon

    I'm with Jennifer, I hope you win your case. When I am paying for my education; I should not be made to take a class because of my views, especially when the don't agree with my instructor. Cramming homosexuality down her throat will not change her views anymore than her cramming Christianity down people throats will change their views. Fact is, it is more of a repellent then a view changer. What ever happened to freedom of choice?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  159. Gus

    I am a gay man. I am also a therapy client. When it came time to tackle my issue with depression, it was essential that I trust my counselor to not judge me. That they would not try to steer me and help me discover and work through my issues. Fortunately for me, she didn't blink once. Can Jennifer say the same? I knew who I was before i started counseling, but an individual seeking help in discovering who they are, are trusting that counselor to help them along that road. We can't say for sure what Jennifer would do until she is in that counseling room, but from what I understand of the "Christian" belief system she adheres too – She would not.

    This is not an issue of religious freedom. It is an issue of adhering to ethical guidelines and practices for a specific vocation. In my career, it is set down in our employee handbook that discrimination in any form is not tolerated. And if I went around preaching that my co-workers and employees must be conform to my ideas of equality, i'd be fired. Just like Jennifer would be if she took a similar job and espoused her beliefs. So for her lawyer to say this is religious intolerance is laughable. No, this is a about her accepting the practices and ethical standards of her chosen vocation that were set down long before she came along. If she doesn't like them, she should find another line of work.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  160. Ashley

    To be a counselor one has to put all religious belifes aside to do their job RIGHT! and they also have to put all other belifes aside too NOT CHANGE THEM. and if the university feels that it is nessccary for her to take a class to help her find talerence for the LGBT community they have that right. If they let her get her drgree it would be like letting a suporter of the kkk teach our young people to hate black people. and those of you think that it not the same thing your wrong its excactly the same. how do people expect to end the hate in the world if people aren't willing to be talerent (they dont have to love them), of people who are diffrent. people have been saying give her the dergree but think for one second, if your child had her as a counselor and they went to her for help with the feelings they're having avout liking a person of the same gender, how do you thik she'll respond? and as a parent you would want your child to be who they want to be right? and think about yourself do you think you could be a good counselor with anti-gay veiws? or any other views that you might come in contact with?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  161. lori

    Jennifer completed all of her course work with passing grades. She has earned her degree. Jennifer has a right to any personal opinion, thoughts, comments, lifestyles, or beliefs that she wants to have in this country. People work in professional fields every day that have different belief systems and manage to maintain a professional work ethic.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  162. LuAnne

    This is a bunch of nonsense. The "remediation" program is not part of her master's studies and cannot be forced upon her just because she is a Christian. Oh, but wait! She cannot discriminate, but she can be discriminated against based on her religious beliefs. Ah, political correctness, we salute thee.

    Give the girl her degree: if she made the grades, she EARNED it. And let the fall-out from her choice of clients rest with her. It's nobody else's business!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  163. Tyler

    She's telling the educators to go screw themselves, she's Christian and doesn't need/want a section of the education process required to graduate. These professionals in the field decided that this is important and should be required. Now some 20 something is telling them she doesn't need to complete this area because she believes in the Bible, and the Bible says gay people are going to hell. I believe her attitude here shows what her attitude would be behind closed doors as she counsels people. biased and unprofessional. I'm sure she'll figure out a way to graduate by making a big enough fuss, so she can try to counsel people to become ex-gays. Her idea that she can throw years of study in the face of education professionals based on her religion makes me sick.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  164. Chris K.

    As a fellow student I'd like to tell her and her lawyer to grow up. There are many courses I've taken that I did not agree with the views expressed in and they were NOT presented with the insidious intent of brainwashing me. The university is not attacking her or saying that her belief-system is wrong, nor are they asking her to change it; they are wanting her to show she can take a neutral stance on something that it is highly evident she can't. Based on her reaction, the university's concerns sound warranted given her choice of profession. If this is a standard response of her's to something as simple as a course requiring further exposure to LGBT and "sensitivity" training and I hope no one I know ever has to be "counseled" by her. Furthermore, in my experience, this most likely isn't even a full semester course but something more along the lines of a weekend workshop. If she truly could put her views to the side from time to time, AS SHE IS REQUIRED TO BY HER CODE OF ETHICS, this issue wouldn't even exist.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  165. Matt W

    Ms. Keaton entered the program knowing what would be required of her at the time of graduation. The fact that it's about LGBT issues and that she is a Christian is immaterial. If this was a police officer who's religion didn't allow him to carry a gun we wouldn't be having any discussion. She needs to take ownership of her mistake and either put aside her views to help people who might need it or find another major.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  166. David

    Religion should not come into play with these discussions. I know many Gay Christians. I see all of these posts stating this is just another excuse to attack the Christians, which is wrong.

    Her religion and beliefs should not come into play, she is a person that is discriminatory against gay people. Plain and simple, regardless of where those beliefs come from religion, parents, or environment if she wants to remain in her profession she needs to learn tolerance, acceptance, and how diversity can help us grow as individuals instead of hindering us.

    Christians need to get off the woes woes me, everyone is picking on me. And FYI I am christian, learn to except people for who they are and live YOUR life how you believe god wants you to live it.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  167. Dave

    If her job is to be a counselor she will not be qualified as per state standards thus being unqualified she should not receive a degree that says she is.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  168. tony

    I know Jennifer personally and she was in my daughters wedding. She is THE most genuine, considerate, and passionate person I have ever known. She would never send a child away by forcing her opinion on a child who has questions about their sexuality or religion. A kid would be so lucky to have a chance to be in her presence and to hear what she has to say. Just because she feels a certain way, doesn't mean she wants to make decisions for someone else. She would just guide them in the direction whether it be a parent, a pastor or even a doctor. She is so gifted and anyone would be lucky to have her counsel them on any issue they were struggling with her. We love you Jenn

    July 28, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  169. Ihek, NY

    Here is a new area for universities to research: A study of who among their students will lose a job in the future due to intolerance?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  170. Eric

    I think the university is well within its rights to put Ms. Keaton through extra workshops. As a counselor, she will be required to put aside her personal beliefs in order to help her students. I think she's misunderstanding the point of the training by refusing it.

    She doesn't have to become an advocate for the LGBT community; she just has to be able to understand the problems LGBT people face, and she won't be able to do that if she keeps her Christian values and beliefs at the forefront of her mind. It's one thing to lead a life by Christian morality; but Christian morality doesn't work for everyone's life. And if you're a counselor, this shouldn't be an issue. I'm Catholic. If I wanted to be a counselor, and my teacher thought my beliefs would get in the way of doing a good job, I would do the training to prove him or her wrong.

    Ms. Keaton needs to understand this isn't about her–it's about her future job. I don't care what other kind of training she's been through. If she is unwilling to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she can be unbiased and unprejudiced in her counseling career, she should consider another career path.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  171. Dr. Pat

    Counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists often have therapy themselves to more fully understand their own biases, beliefs, and viewpoints that might "block" their opportunity to help their patients. This is urgent to become an effective mental health agent. This young woman should welcome the chance to further her education to be the most effective counselor she can be. Her career will not be about her personal beliefs, but rather, about the needs of her patient/clients. Understanding other's beliefs and needs only will enhance her career. Patients/clients depend on this impartiality from their therapists when they participate in therapy.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  172. alana

    This is a very tough situation. On one hand you have a person's personal and religious beliefs that require her to stay true to faith, which I support wholeheartedly. On the other hand their are people in this society that deserve to be treated and counseled regardless of what they are going through. As a healthcare professional myself, I do not have the luxury of choosing whether to treat a rapist on a ventilator or his victim. All people must get the same quality of treatment. Did I know that when I chose my field? Yes. Do I still feel that people that do physical harm to others intentionally don't deserve to live. Yes, but will I do anything to harm them. No. If she could not treat all "patients" non prejudicial, then the mental health field should not have been her choice. I do not agree with the University to make her take extra classes, but she should let each job she applies to know her stance on homosexuality. This would enable them to refer her clients to another therapist.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  173. Ronda Potts

    As I watch this, it only made me want to buy David French's book, "A Season of Justice". I am a Christian. I bless you, CNN and I am smiling right now. Thank you.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  174. Lilly S.

    Kyra,
    Being aware about today's issues will only open one's eyes and – hopefully – increase one's tolerance of to those who are not "like us." Why limit our narrow horizon? The bible has been translated and interpreted countless times during the almost 2000 years of its existence. Keep an open mind. Having said this, the ASU should just let her graduate if she qualifies academically. She will not be the only graduate with a narrow view of today's world.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  175. Pedro Moreno

    If the Vietnamese had Reeducation Camps why can't Augusta State University have one too???

    July 28, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  176. Kevin S.

    Yes, she has the right to her beliefs. Yes, she has the right to her education. Does she have the right to her degree? No. She must earn that.

    Her writings and expressions about homosexual and trans-gendered individuals indicates that she is deficient in meeting the standards of the code of ethics that the ASU counseling program is based on. She has essentially failed to meet the requirements of her program. Remediation is only being offered to help her correct this deficiency–basically, it's extra time/work so she doesn't have to fail the program.

    She does not have to follow the remediation plan. No one is forcing her to do it. If she wants her degree from ASU though, it's what she has to complete.

    What it boils down to for me is Jennifer's choice. She is choosing to not ascribe to the beliefs that she feels dictates the subsequent course requirements of the counseling program–therefore, she is choosing to fail. Along with her other rights, she has the right to choose. Perhaps she should choose a different program. ASU are not (and should not) be passing anyone who is anything less than 100% of what is outlined for those who complete the counseling program.

    The saving grace for me is that a future potential employer needs to simply google her name to find this story–hopefully this will prevent her from gaining much credibility in the counseling world.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  177. Tyler

    By her logic, I could sign up for medical school, and demand my degree and demand not to attend classes because I'm a Christian Scientist. Why should I have to diagnose people when it's all in gods hands anyways? I'd like my degree from the university now. *rolls eyes*

    July 28, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  178. terry kent

    I'm flabergasted! Where has our ability to decide who we associate with or who we choose for customers/clients gone? And who thinks that in this very imperfect world people/counselors should be so perfect as to be able to serve those outside their value range?

    If this were true or achieveable why is our Congress so disjointed?

    July 28, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  179. Erin

    Having recently graduated with my MSW and having a classmate of mine feel the same way, I think it would be important for Kara to go through sensitivity training. I respect that Kara holds the beliefs she has, my concern would be for her clients. Would she be able to respect their beliefs? Would Kara be able to objectively treat her future clients and not push her beliefs on them? These are questions that Kara should ask herself and be truthful when evaluating.
    Part of the Code of Ethics is to do no harm. If Kara were to treat a 15 year old boy that is confused about his sexuality would she try and push her religious beliefs on him or would she guide him to try and find the truth for himself?
    Kara is on dangerous ground and I believe the University is correct to require her to go to sensitivity training.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  180. Tim

    @ Jordan, Many people believe in a literal translation of the book of Genesis, which contradicts the theory of evolution. So, if a biology teacher believes in a literal interpretation of the bible, they still couldn't teach creationism or impose their religious views in class as that would violate the constitutional rights of the students.

    It is a similar situation with Jennifer. She has outspoken biases that would affect her ability to counsel and the school has a responsibility to ensure the students are tolerant of gays and lesbians. They are not requiring her to change her beliefs, but merely expect her to be tolerant of the diversity of the beliefs of others. That is why it is called "diversity" training.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  181. D. LeBlanc

    Here we go again.....liberal left wingers gone nuts trying to shove their agenda down EVERYONE'S throats! This country better wake up soon.....

    July 28, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  182. Jordan

    What is up with all these AWFUL metaphors and people acting like they know who this girl is. Quit with these terrible examples! And quit assuming she's a judgemental bigot! In doing so your the one being judgemental.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  183. Marion Roberson, III

    To Ken, who commented earlier, this nation was not founded on God's word, specifically founded in God endowing all men (as defined: white males 21years at minimum, who owned land) to live free. Beyond that every effort was made to remove the pretense of religion or theocracy away from any wording to the extent even to state "...but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

    Because they saw how religious conflict between the Puritans, church of England, and the Catholic Church almost destroyed their country – Google: Guy Fawkes, and Thomas Jefferson on the issue of religion in government. He spoke against it after being criticized by a prominent religious community official in his time, and gave a good explanation of why.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  184. Danny

    they are going way to far. Who cares what she belives there are many religions out there with way crazier beliefs and practices. What if a muslim right in the middle of class started to pray on his carpet would that be a huge thing also? I doubt it stop hating on christians. Why are christians questioned more than any other religion because they are right!!!!!! Maybe yall should look into it and stop foolin yourselves

    July 28, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  185. Collette/Oregon

    KUDOS to all the Christians out there giving their love and support to Our Loving Father as well as Jennifer. Praise Him always.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  186. Dan

    Tyler, please re-read the bible. No where does it say "homosexuals will go to hell". You are way off. Hell is for sinners (which we ALL were at one time).
    It says "all who call on the name of the lord will be saved". It doesn't matter if you are a homosexual, adulterer, murder, thief, etc, etc, if you repent and turn from your wicked way.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  187. Tomorrow D

    These students need to adjust to the "real world" where everyone is not and will not be sensitive to their "sexual struggles" &/or homosexuality. That's the way it is... Get over it! There are MANY individuals that agree, with their "lifestyle" and those are the individuals they should deal with.

    Everyone has the right to their beliefs, not only the Gays, but Jennifer as well. She has chosen and different belief system, they should find counselors that believe in their "struggle". We ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO OUR BELIEFS!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  188. Fritz

    The University upholds the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics, which “ recognize[s] diversity and embrace[s] a cross cultural approach in support of the worth dignity, potential and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts”. How can the University be wrong in doing this? What IS wrong is for the media to distinguish this woman's views by implying she speaks for Christianity somehow. Are the hundreds of devout Christians who graduated from her counselling program less Christian than she? Her actions suggest she's a narcissistic bigot who presumes to drape herself in Christ's burial shroud.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  189. Wesley

    There is absolutely no "violation of first amendment rights". You can believe whatever you choose to that still does not make your belief real or right. The only way this woman would have been required to take this training would be because she has made it well known of her evident bigotry. If you are in a graduate program to become a counselor where your training in a profession to counsel ALL people including homosexuals and you are a bigot you should have seen it coming or should switch degrees. It would be ethically wrong for the mentors and professionals with actual experience in counseling to let her receive a degree in counseling if she is believed to not be able to abide by their core ethics. Also a school possesses every right to deny anyone in a graduate program a degree because of a deficit they refuse to bring up to standard in order to graduate.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  190. Amber

    Wouldn't it be the responsibilty of a math teacher to give extra problems to a student if that student is having difficulties understanding? I think her professor just wants to help her understand people with different lifestyles. If she is unable or unwilling to do the assignment, then she can't pass. Maybe she has been singled out, but maybe other students didn't have issues with the LGBT community.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  191. Theresa

    Helo Kyra,
    Let me start by saying I love what you do! and that is to keep us (public) informed, However , I do feel as an american I have a right to the first amendment, I am a christian. My question is why everytime someone mentions the word christian that gets bumped into recycle mode? like we have be programmed to think that whatever is okay! Like your morals and standards have to be what the world says it should be. Whether people want to face it or not america was built on bible principals and now we want to pretend that the goverment makes all the rules and their rules came from the bible!!! go figure!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  192. Tom

    No one is telling her to change her beliefs! They are asking her to take a sensitivity course. Two different things.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  193. Javin Atreides

    The fact that this lady went and got a lawyer just proves why she needs to take the sensitivty training now more than ever. As a member of the LGBT community I really hope that CNN gets a spokes person for us. The LGBT community needs to be able give ther input on this case of homophobia!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  194. Matt H

    The ridiculous bit here is that were we to substitute the issue of homosexuality with that of race, there would be virtually no deb ate whatsoever. No one is infringing on anyone's free speech, or dictating morals. The professional educators of ASU are acting to protect the integrity of their profession by taking measures to ensure that a prospective practitioner of their profession can separate their personal beliefs from their obligation not to impose those beliefs on potential clients.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  195. Lee

    It is known that people interested in counseling should have a strong desire to help people while at the same time have the ability to inspire trust, confidence and respect. If ones sexual preference is an issue, how can any counselor begin to build a stable and helpful relationship with any client? Obviously there is bias against the gay community, (using whatever excuse some find agreeable) but what other beliefs, what other possible prejudices would someone with these characteristics impose on an unstable or confused mind that is seeking sane help? I doubt any sensitivity training would help a personality so closed minded that their interpretation of religion brings them to such bazaar conclusions.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  196. Bob

    What about other religions they believe things that are crazy also such as muslims what if right in the middle of class they got down and prayed on there carpet would it be a big deal like this i doubt it. God created adam and eve not adam and steve homosexuality is a choice look at animals they dont mate with the same sex they go to the opposite so maybe yall who are hating should look into christianity? maybe christians are hated on the most because its the only true religion think about it!!!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  197. Collette/Oregon

    Let's keep it in perspective people, this is not about religion or homosexuality. It's about whether or not she can be a councilor and still have her own views. Do you know anyone who does not have their own views and beliefs!? If you don't, you're a drone! I was a councilor for 6 years and my views never interfered with my job. It's kind of like leaving your problems at the door when you get to work and vice verse.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  198. Jessica Squires

    I think she should have to figure it out herself. She may never get a job and that is her problem. People think that it is okay to discriminate for any reason just because they don't agree. No one is telling her to change her beliefs. They're asking her to tolerate people. Even Jesus ate with sinners. She'll figure it out on her own.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  199. Jan

    If this student plans to practice as a Professional School Counselor she bears the responsibility to practice as the counselor to all students. While she holds negative beliefs about gay and lesbian people based on her specific Christian denomination (her beliefs are not shared by all Christians), she must abide by both the American Counseling Association and the American School Counselor Association Codes of Ethics which prohibit the imposition of religious beliefs on clients. In many schools, she will be the only counselor available to help students. Other counseling resources may not be available (as is the case in many rural areas), families may not be able to financially provide counseling from community resources or gay/lesbian students may be reluctant to tell their parents of their need for counseling. Gay/lesbian adolescents are at much greater risk of suicide than the total teen population. If those students sought her help, would she be able to fulfill her professional resposibilities? The dilemma faced by the Augusta State University counseling faculty seems to be respecting the right of students in their programs to hold their own religious beliefs and respecting the rights of future client/students she may serve to effective counseling services.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  200. NKI

    Are u serious?? At what point does "going along to get along" start to effect the othe side of the coin? ASU is asking Jennifer to do the same thing that they are refusing to do by not giving her diploma! It's not ok for Jennifer to not except the behavior and or practices of LGBT beliefs, but it is ok for ASU to go against Jennifer's beliefs? Come on give me a break!! This country is so backwards that our freedom is becoming a double-edge sword! She has a right to believe whatever she wants, but it doesn't mean it will effect her professionalism, especially when licensed counselor, physcologist...etc are trained to remove their feelings & do what's best for their patients! Give the woman her diploma and stop taking away her rights!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  201. Dan

    I am a CHRISTian, and am proud of it. I have a relationship, not just a religion.
    I agree with Theresa. IF Jennifer would have been a Muslim (Religion), Hindu (Religion), Buddist (Religion), Jennifier's actions would have been accepted; however, because she professed her faith as Christian (relationship) the general public can't accept it.
    The bible says that Christians WILL (not if/maybe) face persecution, and this is just another example of persecution.
    God Bless Jennifer.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  202. bluemax1

    if the the tables were turned and, the student was atheist and the subject requiring counseling was a devout christian,not withstanding the severe peculation and hypocrisy associated with this, suppositional narrative and, the problem or,illness was niether christian dogma nor, atheistic personal existentialism , should'nt the counselor defer to a professional code of ethics? adhere vehemently to a proscribe non prejudicial training regiment applying the most appropo as well as an, arrant counseling and
    treatment eclat, wholy based on a tenet of therapeutical effacacy in the absent of religious dogma, canon or repine from the administrator ,perhaps even, lao diceanly and sedulously administered in a non expostulate and professional clinical application, based on a non personal belief,bias or orientation as an effete salient way, to use as a suitable apposite, used as an anodyne or, method of treatment to assuage onerous vexation while assuring acuity as well as, perspicacity as should,an ethical practitioner!

    July 28, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  203. Nancy

    Well, the fact that she is raising such a ruckus about this says to me that she's adamant about believing homosexuality is wrong and would be unable to counsel any individual struggling with it. Standards are standards and have been set up for a purpose. Perhaps, she's afraid if she took the sensitivity training, she'd find out that very few homosexuals have 666 tattooed on their forehead.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  204. Jordan

    This is discrimination. period. Adding requirements because of her religion. This is discrimination on the basis of religion.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  205. Jeff Parmelee

    This is against the US constitution as it states there in "Freedom of religion" it is a God given right to be lieve or not and no man nor insitution can take this from anyone. We all owe it to ourselfs to stand by our religious believes and not give into pressues from idiots like these and those in the administration! Stand your ground firmly, God will prevail!!!

    Take care and God bless

    July 28, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  206. Tina

    I applaud Jennifer for standing up for what is right and good, especially in the eyes of God. We should all set such a good examples instead of trying to please the dranged few people. One thing is to respect people rights and another thing is fo force people to follow the deranged and sinfull people, who are acting in abomination to the Lord. Jennifer is obaying the supreme law, and the school of (Ceasar) is penalizing her? How diranged, the university is denying the supreme law and then is trying to force it on its students, don't sound like a sound university; thus, it is taking it too far. So now we are going too far as a society, instead of promoting goodness and good examples we are now even punishing for not setting bad examples, how warped can that be? What kind of society have we created, that the few wicked people are trying to rule? For sure that is the work of Satan, and then we are trying to support him.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  207. Tom Niehoff

    I'd like to know who passed and signed this stupid PC regulation.
    I remember a thing called freedom from and of religion. It would depend what type of counseling she would do. You all are assuming her counseling would be open to every one. Yet I know of LDS counselors who do only LDS, Counselors who only do sexually abused children, Christian counselors who do only Christians, Counselors who treat only PTSD. This has nothing to do after she graduates ans choose her area of expertness. This is nothing but a police state under the guise of PC forcing an open Christian to change her religious beliefs. If the student were Greek orthodox, Jewish, Southern baptist, Russian Orthodox or a Muslim. This issue would not even arise , even though all of these in one form or another prohibit homosexually, same sex couples, or lesbians. In the Muslim it calls for the death penalty. Ask yourself this, Why is it okay to discriminate against Whites or Christians and not the others? It's because we are on the path to a police state like it or not.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  208. Denise Goin

    Kyra,

    As a May 2010 graduate with a Masters Degree in Social Work I would have to wonder why Ms. Keaton chose the counseling profession. The National Associaiton of Social Workers Code of Ethics state:

    1.05 Cultural Competence and Social Diversity
    (a) Social workers should understand culture and its function in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures.

    (b) Social workers should have a knowledge base of their clients’ cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in the provision of services that are sensitive to clients’ cultures and to differences among people and cultural groups.

    (c) Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.

    I would guess that the ACA's ethics code is similiar. From the information presented here I would have to agree with Augusta State University's position. They are not asking her to change her beliefs, but rather fulfilling their obligation to students to provide education in the counseling field and prepare counseling students for the profession. I think Ms. Keaton would have a very difficult time in the profession and adhering to the Code of Ethics. She should get a graduate degree, as she has done the work – in another area.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  209. John Lariviere

    One can understand that a student may feel singled out is asked to take a class that others have not in order to receive the same degree. As an educator and a musician, I can compare this to the curriculum for graduate school degrees from various universities. A grad student who shows advanced ability in conducting for example may audit a conducting class, while another student may be requested to take private conducting lessons. A student would indeed have the right to contend that request and defend their right to conduct as they wish. However the school has the right to protect it's reputation via the product they produce in their graduates. Some students waste time and energy being offended by the evaluation of their superiors that they are less than perfect. Most care enough to wish to improve, or are at least mature enough to take the class to get the degree without complaining.
    I compare this to attending a state university with a culinary arts degree. If there is a class in meat handling/preparation, would one sue the school because they were a vegetarian and didn't support animal slaughter?
    She is suing a school because they wish her to take a class in tolerance, and she is sayingthat tolerance is against her personal belief system and violtaes her 1st ammendment rights. How ironic that I personally know people that have been expelled from private colleges for saying that, though they had never engaged in any sexual activity, they thought they were gay.

    I find this issue ridiculous. I note that she is described as a devout Christian, and CNN showed whistful pictures of her looking sweetly out of the window as the breeze ruffles her hair. Why is there no mention of her denomination and their tennants, verification of her membeship or attendance, or involvement with a specific church? Where is a statement supporting her from her church? One could infer that they do not wish to be involved, and she may be using the Bible to shield her own agenda, and the 1st Ammendment as an excuse for her academic shortcomings.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  210. Barbara Haman

    Is it coming to the place where the policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue" will be adopted by our colleges and universities? Will it read like this... “Don’t Ask” will mandate that college/university officials will not ask about or require students to reveal their Christian beliefs. “Don’t Tell” states that a Christian may not graduate if s/he says that s/he is a Christian or makes a statement indicating that s/he has a tendency towards or intends to engage in Christian beliefs. “Don’t Pursue” establishes what is minimally required for an investigation to be initiated on a student if they voice their Christian beliefs. “Don’t Harass” it ensures that the colleges/universities will not allow harassment or violence against Christians nor will do it themselves for any reason.
    What some have fought against are now weapons in their hands.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:24 am |
  211. Bernie

    Kyra,

    Just an add on to my previous comment. When I was in grad school last century a number of my classmates were in the military, some thinking of making counseling a second career after military service. Unfortunately, most of these folks were, if not homophobic, somewhat negative of anyone who was not "hetero."

    I asked our instructor if I could bring in a guest speaker, a friend from the local community, who was very open about herself. The instructor agreed, and my friend came in and told her story about how she tried the hetero life to please everyone else, but was very unhappy inside herself. Eventually this lovely lady finally came out and now has been in a wonderful, long relationship. The couple as a beautiful, very well adjusted child with two mommies.

    After listening to my well spoken, sincere friend, even the most ardent homophobe expressed feelings of change regarding LGBT individuals. Did this experience of actually meeting with, and listening to a gay person change my classmates forever? I don't know, but it did give them something to consider and perhaps not fear. Gay is not contagious as some people seem to think.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  212. Rebecca j Brown

    I am also a christian, but above all, I was taught to love all people and not judge lest I be judged.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  213. bluemax1

    as a christian does this mean no bread and fish for the homo's,give me a break,as a christian we are encouraged to love all of god's creation as did, jesus the christ. jesus believe's in redemption and so do i but he also,encourages us in relationships to adapt to an unconditional love as opposed to blatant arbitrary discrimination and, he wants us to be a "funnel and not a filter",god says we can judge actions but not motives because, only god knows the heart. someone blogged earlier that, islam,hindu,buddist are all a form of religion and, some may have missed this important distinction, but i may add,all denominational affiliation is also, just religion but,having said that, let me support my thesis and, i quote, "religion is man attempt to try and reach up to god,christianity is god's attempt to reach down to man! god is absolutely sovereign. selah!

    July 28, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  214. mann

    The university is dead wrong. They should stop shoving their beliefs down the throats of others. She is entiltled to her beliefs just like anyone else, including those who choose to belief in homsexuality.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  215. Chris

    I am a school counselor and the American School Counseling Association code of ethics are paramount in this profession. "DO NO HARM" is the overriding principle, of course, and when a counselor has serious "personal issues" with an individual they are "counseling," they have an ethical and legal obligation to refer that individual to another counselor. Otherwise, it will potentially DO HARM to the client. If this college student is being resistant to having an "open mind" about diversity issues such as this, I wonder how serious she is about focusing on doing the right thing for the client (albeit future) instead of satisfying her own personal needs. I do not think that the school is trying to change her beliefs (no one can actually DO that). The clients' needs (in this case, "future") come first!

    July 28, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  216. wake_up

    Fact 1: Her religious beliefs prevent her from faithfully executing the required standards of a profession

    Fact 2: Giving her a degree is to publicly declare that she is capable of performing at or above the standards of that profession

    Conclusion: They cannot, in good conscience, give her a degree

    If a prospective firefighter thinks that god wants him to let certain houses burn to the ground, is everyone going to clamor for him to get the job?

    No. That would ruin people's lives.

    So would a social worker who hates gay people.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  217. Revcat

    As an ordained minister in a denomination that recently became the largest mainline church to welcome gay and lesbian pastors in committed relationships, it frustrates me to see one more news story that makes a simplistic equation between being "Christian" and holding fundamentalist views. Not all Christians share this young lady's views, nor would they support the actions of the Alliance Defense Fund. It would be helpful to use adjectives such as "conservative" or "fundamentalist" in stories like these.

    As far as my view on the story itself, I would have loved to have seen the Lambda Legal representative counter the Alliance Defense representative by saying that, yes, the student has a First Amendment right to express her views, but she does not have a First Amendment right to graduate as a qualified candidate to be a certified counselor.

    Lastly, if the student in question is reading this blog, may I gently request that she consider reading the book "Prayers for Bobby," which is about an evangelical/fundamentalist Christian mother's coming to terms with the suicide of her gay son.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  218. Ruth

    1. Constitutional issues aside, ( tho the bottom line) the guidelines of the ACA include not discriminating on the basis of a variety of folks' preferences. THis includes religion. How did the university and ACA by pass this point in terms of their student's rights? The counseling student must accept X person's behavior/belief, but the counseling student doesn't have to accept a Christian person's behavior/belief?????????

    2. The marketplace will deal with this counselor's (and other counselor's)belief system and preferences. This student may very well plan to join a Christian counseling firm.

    3. The ACA and the university are at one end of hte pendulum on this, forgetting that there are plenty of gay folks who actually would like have counseling help them adopt a different lifetsyle. (see below)

    4. The Christian stance on difficult issues, is always LOVE the person first; dislike/deal with the behavior second. When our child/friend/co worker does soemthing we disapprove of or don't believe in, we do not dislike or reject our child/freind/co worker.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  219. Shane

    Keep in mind that individual rights only matter if you are NOT a Christian.
    Everyone has rights that should be respected and supported as long as they do not include anything relating to the Christian religion.

    We cannot pray where we choose, it might offend somebody.
    We cannot believe a lifestyle is wrong, it might offend somebody.
    We cannot argue our own idea of creation, it might offend somebody.
    We cannot have freedom of religion...our constitutional right...it might offend somebody.

    The intollerance of minority groups offends me.
    Liberal groups will not be happy until the religious freedoms of the United States have been modified to disallow Christian belief.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  220. Response to wake_up

    I highly doubt Jennifer 'hates gay people'. I believe she hates their actions because its contrary to the word of God. God loves all men, but he DOES NOT love their sin. Hence why he sent Jesus Christ to save us. Its IGNORANT for people to go to the extremes of saying she despises, hates, or loathes gay people.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  221. Brandy Savage

    I think that she chose a curriculum that at its core should be free from bias and prejudice, regardless of religious belief. While I think she has every right to stand up for her religious convictions, I also think that she must uphold the ethics of her chosen career path, which calls for tolerance outside of her religious beliefs. As a counselor, which is what she is going to school for, one must have the clients best welfare at heart, outside of what one personally believes is right or wrong. Whatever your belief, you have to be objective. If she doesn't fulfill the requirements, she didn't earn her degree. Case clsoed.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  222. Su from Fort Lee, NJ

    UNBELIEVABLE that the GOVERNMENT sided with the rights of CRIMINALS!

    IF the Fed argues that they have the precedent to enforce illegal immigration laws, then the Dept. of Justices SHOULD BE SUING in those states where they are providing sanctuary for the illegals. THEY ARE BREAKING the Federal law, aren't they? WHY THE DOUBLE-STANDARD???

    I cannot believe this is the America I dreamt of...

    July 28, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  223. Glory Thompson

    The ASU administrators should be applauded for not allowing Jennifer; the devout Christian, whom desires to dedicate her entire life in misusing the Word of God as a bigot; to presume her biblical educated way of thinking the world evolves around the religious idea that states God isn't the God of the gay community and that God desires for her to ridicule, belittle, and discriminate against the LGBT community for the sake if upholding her religious ordinance.
    A lic. counselor during the early 1900's thru the mid 1900's didn't need the extra training of a remediation program, because in those days the religious idea which spreads hatred against the LGBT community was encouraged.
    Now during the year 2010 gays students have rights to coexist with the heterosexual students of every University of America. The ASU administrators evidently are a group of born again Christians who are boldly standing on the goodness of God's love, mercy and grace for all and not just for certain groups.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  224. Dwayne Byrum

    Kyra, I am gay and I really could care less what this person's personal beliefs are...they should have no bearing on whether she gets her degree or not. I would only hope that sometime in the near future she would be able to assist all people without prejudice. We need counselors who are genuinely interested in helping all people instead of worrying about their own agenda and flawed perspectives.

    BTW...you rock and I look forward to your show because you have a unique balance of news with a nice dose of humanity and appropriate humor! ;-)

    July 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  225. Erica

    I'm shocked at how alleged "narrow mindedness" and "intolerance" are so one sided. If she is required sensitivity training for stating her beliefs, where is the sensitivity training for an outspoken athiest who might see a Christian client? My husband is finishing his PhD in clinical psychology and has met quite a few of those. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, no matter what they are. Until you can address every possible bias a counselor might have, one should not be singled out. That is where professionalism comes to play in referring clients to other therapists that can better treat them, no matter what the issue may be. No where does it say she must be required to see every patient that walks through her doors.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  226. Geno

    This is something an employer should decide, not a state learning institution!

    Completely ridiculous! ASU needs to know the role of an educating body and educate the student, the end! Students should be allowed to make up their own minds and have beliefs that they decide upon after being presented with all sides.

    ASU, do not try to enforce your beliefs upon the student and make up their minds for them ... stay out of the personal lives and beliefs of your students ASU ... it's none of your business.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  227. Jerry

    I find amusing that the people that scream for tolerance the most can display so little tolerance when it's their turn to show it. Hypocrites! You people only demand tolerance when it benefits you.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  228. Elle

    We would all be in a better place if we weren't so critical of others and payed more attention to our own actions.

    I did not know that God is quoted as saying, "I hate homosexuals." When did he say that? Recently?? I must have missed it!

    It is wrong to misquote anyone! What should be said is, "My understanding of this particular passage is..." Not all Christians can be summed up by a percentage of persons opinions' on selected scripture.

    Shame on me, shame on you.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
  229. Mary Steele Yorktown VA

    If the class is a "requirement" she must take it, if not, give her the degree she has earned! What she does after that is between her and her employer or between her and her client, if she is in private practice!

    July 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  230. Ashley Barnes

    The college is not asking her to change her religious views, the college is asking her to have an open mind, and have some exposure to some of the people she might be working with someday. Her inability to be open with her clients because they are homosexual is a liability on the college. They don't need to be responsible. There is other colleges out there that would do the same thing. It is not about HER, it is about the CLIENT!

    July 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
  231. Tony Boulton

    I watched your coverage of this story this morning whilst waiting at my doctor's office. The suggestion was that counselors should be prepared work with people to enable them to reach their own personal goals. Surely, unless I am wrong, those that need counseling are in the situation that they are because they need to reassess their goals and the way they are living their lives? They need wise counsel not just to be enabled.

    July 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
  232. Robert

    I think the school is correct and that homophobia is not acceptable inn a professional counseling context. It is time to vigorously stand up to these religious fundamentalists that exhibit homophobic attitudes bassed upon a narror religious belief.

    July 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  233. Jan

    My understanding of the dilemma is not that Ms. Keaton holds a particular set of beliefs associated with some Christian denominations, but that the faculty believe that Ms. Keaton has demonstrated an unwillingness to learn how to manage the influence of one of her Christian beliefs on her work with clients in either a school or community setting. Throughout most counselor education programs, students are provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their abilities to manage the influence of their beliefs and values. I'm guessing (faculty are not allowed to discuss this student's education due to the restrictions of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act) that faculty have observed behaviors demonstrating the influence of her belief about gay/lesbian people. I assume the remediation plan (not an additional class) was designed to help Ms. Keaton recognize when her belief was influencing her work and how to manage that influence. Other students in the program may have completed such remediation plans. FERPA would prevent any discussion of this. If the goal of the remediation plan is to require a change in Ms. Keaton's beliefs, then her rights are indeed being violated. However, if the goals of the plan are to help Ms. Keaton be aware of when her belief is influencing her work and how to manage that influence, then the counselor education faculty at Augusta State University is not only in the right, they are fulfilling their professional and ethical obligations.

    July 28, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  234. michelle

    I believe that Jennifer should not have to take this course to graduate but the course she be a option for Jennifer to take to gain more experience on people who homsexuals. I feel that Jennifer has the right to believe or not believe in homosexuals. I thought we lived in the free country where we were titled to our beliefs.?

    July 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  235. Alan Wake

    A modest proposal for the christians that are irate at the university:

    Imagine for a minute that this was a fundamentalist muslim man who was being denied a law degree because he believes that rape is justifiable in some situations.

    If she has the right to bypass a university's judgment on religious grounds, so would he.

    The Constitution applies to everyone.

    July 28, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  236. Mitch

    Conservatives who are fuming against educational institutions: please learn to spell. It's difficult to follow your arguments when your writing is incoherent. Instead of railing against colleges, maybe you ought to enroll in one, assuming you can pass the admissions tests (or are those tests a violation of your right to remain opinionated and ignorant simultaneously?).

    July 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  237. Tiffany Armstrong

    hold on to ur beliefs jennifer. its christians with this belief who get discrimnated and bigoted on (these days)

    July 28, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  238. Tam

    I commend Jennifer for taking a stand and letting her beliefs be known. She has opened her mind to everyone whether everyone agrees or not. The homosexual community has been made to feel just as comfortable and at ease with something that Bible-reading and Bible-walking Christians know is taboo. Now, the pressure is on us through diversity training/ brainwashing to cast Christians as uneducated, bigoted, discriminating, and unlearned. Well maybe we feel the same way about those who think that about us. We are teachers, lawyers, doctors, politicians, artist, actors, writers, firemen, scientist, and everything else. All Jennifer has to do is refer clients that have an issue with their homosexually to a specialist in that area. Doctors do that all the time. If the course is required, take it. But who believes everything their professor says? America, know this one thing, we Christians are not going to change our view because we know that we are right. I didn't say self-righteous, but we know that homosexually is still wrong. As a Black woman, I don't see any value in it. With so many of our young African-American males incarcerated, murdered, and on drugs, we can't afford to loose them to something that is just not fruitful. So leave Jennifer to her beliefs and respect them. Sometimes it takes a bigger person to see something wrong, recognize it as such and just let it go. Christians do that all the time unless you come knocking on their doors; then, we have to tell it the way it is.

    July 28, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  239. canadian

    I think all religious views should be kept at home and should not be allowed to be publicly discuss or in any political activities. Its the number 1 reason for wars and it always causes trouble.

    July 28, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  240. terry

    dust off that copy of the constitution and get ready for protest and us to stop all tax payer money you receive and lawsuits out the ying yang, we will not stand for your discrimination god bless

    July 28, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  241. madhavi

    Let us be clear: Ms. Keaton is not being “discriminated against” because of her beliefs. There are thousands of counselors out there who believe anything they like. No one is forcing “a student to change their religious beliefs for staying in an academic program.” It’s not one’s beliefs which are in question; it becomes an issue *only* when a counselor tries to impose his or her beliefs on someone else. The sensitivity training is *not* intended or designed to change her beliefs, but to show her how to interact with those with values different from her own. The American Counseling Association’s code of ethics says that members should “recognize diversity and embrace a cross cultural approach in support of the worth dignity, potential and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts.”

    The counselor is in a position of power and must always be sensitive to that. If she is unwilling or unable to counsel someone without judging them according to her own biases, if she is unable to leave her biases at the door in every sense and in every way when she is counseling someone, if she is unable to embrace (not just tolerate) diverse opinions – even those dramatically different from her own, then how can she counsel students? They want help to live their lives; they do not need to be indoctrinated to live *her* life or follow her value systems. It’s not her beliefs or her values which are at issue – she is indeed entitled to them. If a person seeks to impose beliefs on those in a subordinate position, then that person is better qualified to seek a degree in dictatorship rather than in counseling.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  242. Psych Grad Student

    Honestly, as a student working towards a Masters in Counseling Psych, I first must say this girl is in the wrong career path. That being said, I really don't think the article would've have made quite such a fuss if religion hadn't been brought into it. If it had skipped "devout Christian" altogether, there'd still be controversy, but of a different type. Perhaps this view isn't connected to her religion at all.

    At any rate, the issue is NOT her religion – if it was, thagt'd be another story. The issue is sensitivity, and therefore I think a sensitivity course should be necessary. Now hear me out, this is why:

    Saying this young woman could refer any LGBT patients to another professional is not at all plausible. Sexual preference may not come up in the initial interview session, for example; or the person coule be struggling with sexual identity and it may not come up for several weeks. In fact, if they're struggling, it most likely WON'T because it'll be such a sensitive topic for them, and thus it's entirely possible they'll avoid the topic altogether until they build up a good rapport and trust. If a patient revealed their sexual identity troubles, or their preference and then the therpist told them they'd have to see someone else, it would be extremely psychologically damaging to the individual seeking treatment.

    The sensitivity training (which is more common than some might think) is not saying, "you need to change your beliefs!" it's jsut saying to explore and get exposed to these issues. If, after the training, se maintains her views, well, they can't do anything about that. The onyl thing that could really save her is if she was upfront at every initial interview and said she didn't treat those sorts of cases (because clearly she cannot have empathy towards those individuals, and empathy is arguably a therapist's most important tool); however, she would probably lose a lot a business and would ultimately suffer for it.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  243. Debra

    So, the question is: "Should Jennifer have to go through “sensitivity training” in order to get her diploma or is the university going too far?"
    My question is, was this requirement added after the fact or before? Did Jennifer know that this was required when she began her final decent to graduation?

    Regardless, to the Christians I would ask, "What would Jesus do? Would Jesus have to change his beliefs in order to be sensitive and tolerant when necessary. Jennifer is obviously not prepared for her chosen profession. Rigidity is not beneficial to counseling. Jennifer could benefit from some sensitivity training.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  244. Hannah

    Coming from Augusta and having attended Augusta State, I can say that I do not think the university told her she had to change her beliefs altogether. I personally know some of the people in the counseling program and they will all tell you that Ms. Keeton is known for her outbursts in class and refusal to complete assignments that have to do with sensitivity issues. ASU's counseling program website specifically cites that students will "Demonstrate an understanding of and respect for human diversity." If Ms. Keeton's graduate professors think that she doesn't meet these requirements, than she doesn't deserve this degree. As a counselor, she will be representing Augusta State and considering some of the viewpoints that she holds, I think that she should best go to a christian college that could better house her opinions. If I thought the professors at ASU were trying to force her to change her beliefs, I would be on her side. Counselors, especially school counselors, need to be able to relate to a very diverse people group. You can have your personal beliefs and opinions, but they need to remain separate from your clients. Ms. Keeton is showing that she is not comfortable with diversity and that she will have a hard time in the future keeping herself out of her counseling.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:26 am |
  245. E Hatton

    Public institutions have the responsibility of upholding the principles of the government that funds them. Do our governments require that people put aside their beliefs for 8 hours a day in order to work in their chosen field? What amount of freedom is there, if people cannot apply their personal beliefs to their work? You might as well tell them they cannot live and act in accordance with their beliefs for 80% of their life. As long as a person does not break the laws created by the government, that person should not be punished by being prohibited to work in his/her chosen field by being denied the required certificate needed to get a license in that field unless he/she fulfills requirements not required of anyone else.

    The college is asking her not to live according to her religious beliefs in order to work in her chosen field. Unless anyone cares to define working as outside the realm of life.

    If it were a private school, things would be different. Private schools are free to adopt whatever policy they chose as long as it doesn't break the contract they have with their students or conflict with the laws.

    On a more fundamental level, when governments give business licenses, they restrict the freedom to work just like the guilds used to do in the dark ages. Governments control education and business through licensing laws and impose the views of those in power in the government upon everyone else. In order to pass the tests and obtain a license, a person must learn the views of those in power and apply them, while disregarding their own beliefs. Is this liberty?

    July 29, 2010 at 1:44 am |
  246. Holistic Wellness Paradise

    I am a Counselor Educator, which means I train Ph.D. and MA students to become school or agency counselors. I applaud ASU for their willingness to require a student to go through a remediation process. This is not uncommon. It is likely that their policy has been thoroughly “vetted” by legal department of ASU. The American Counseling Code of Ethics requires the faculty, in a sense, to act as gate keepers for the profession. Thus, in training there is a constant reference to The Code and the degree of adherence to a particular section. Also, as a part of the training students are encouraged to work on their own “stuff”. This may involve requiring students to engage in their own personal counseling for a specific number of sessions.
    It is likely that this student at ASU had demonstrated views inconsistent with the profession throughout her training. The faculty is not likely to require a remediation process due to one incident. Any student with narrow views cannot be open to clients who bring any number of issues to the counseling process. We work with clients who tell us things they have never told anyone else. Very often these things are deep, dark, and sorted. Therefore, it is best to screen out students who have the potential to do additional harm because of their inability to be open to the experiences of the client. Note, that does not mean that you endorse the behavior as part of your personal life.
    I suggest that the student read the case of Burff v. North Mississippi Health Services, Inc., 2001.
    Thanks Kyra for giving this issue more than a minute of air time. It was a good discussion. I appreciate the fact that your guest was the ACA ethics representative.

    July 29, 2010 at 6:39 am |
  247. JDaniel

    It's absolutely abhorrent that anything other than academic standards be forced on a student. Secondly, it's an infringement of Keaton's Constitutional rights to require the additional sessions.

    I wonder how many counselors and/or students who harbor anti-religious sentiment are required to attend church services. engage in prayer, or confession so they can grasp what it's like to be a Christian in an increasingly nonreligious and un-Christian world?

    July 29, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  248. Michael Trout

    if she was a medical student, and her religion recommended the practice of bleeding to cast out demons and impurities, would you think she should graduate? if she is studying to be a licensed counselor, then she should be expected to know and understand (and practice) professionally standard protocols. as i understand it she is not being told to change her beliefs, but to round out her education.

    July 29, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  249. A friend of a friend

    What this article leaves out is that at the end of the remediation she would have had to either changed her beliefs or be kicked out of the program. She refused to go through it because she knew her beliefs wouldn't change, not because she had a problem with the remediation itself.

    July 29, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  250. a. davis

    i have seen many misguided comments on here. i am a student at Augusta State University. I am also a Christian. I come from a similar background as Ms. Keeton and live within the same community. I also agree with ASU. I'd like to say that no one is trying to CHANGE her viewpoint. The sensivity assignments are for just that - sensitivity. It is also not a question of whether ASU, or anyone else for that matter, thinks her beliefs are right or wrong or acceptable within an educational environment. Its about whether or not she, as an individual, has the capacity to meet the requirements of the degree that she pursues. There is a code of ethics that governs this field of work, just as there is one the governs the medical field. You wouldn't want a doctor that didn't meet the standard. Anyone can say that she can turn away a client that she is not qualified to help, but what we don't know is if she would. In this instance, Augusta State serves as the monitor to ensure that everyone who enters her field is qualified under the guidelines and curriculm outlined for students to follow. It would, in fact, be unethical for ASU to pass her through with these concerns present. Not to say that Ms. Keeton shouldn't be a counselor. She has stated that she wishes to counsel in a Christian environment. Therefore, she should be educating herself in a private, Christian establishment and be attaining a more specialized degree like a Masters of Christian Counseling.

    July 29, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
  251. Ron Hale

    This school is outrageous! They have no right to make this additional requirement of a student.

    July 30, 2010 at 7:05 am |
  252. vernon woods

    I think we are all bigots in the eyes of people we disagree with. I don't totally agree with all christian beiiefs but I believe we have the right to them. This woman should have her degree. Really, who is the bigot here?

    July 30, 2010 at 7:44 am |
  253. terry

    well debra as a christian I can tell you what the bible says .and jesus loves everyone .jesus would never change his beleifs .remember he died for his beleifs .which was he loved us so much he took our sins on his self and died and went to hell for us.he loves all homesexuals he just dont love the act of it.So I have no problem with what they ask of her as long as thay ask the same of homesexuals ,they should have them to take sensitivity for christians. god bless and remember he loves you no matter what you do even if you dont beleive in him. have a great day to all.

    July 30, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  254. Wanda Ford

    why should someone be able to cause harm to people on the internet using "anonymous" hiding behind it so they will not be confronted, or have to prove their accusations. These accusers are cowards, believing that their lies can not be found out. There should be a method of finding out who they are, giving the accused their right to privacy.

    July 30, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  255. Bill Gibson

    Jennifer should definitely not be required to attend sensitivity training in order to obtain her diploma!

    ASU is attempting to hold this student hostage because of her religious beliefs! Universities use this tactic very regularly to intimidate students who publicly espouse divergence religious or political ideologies! This tactic is used by professors and instructors when students oppose their (left leaning Marxist teachings) views and take a stand!

    Sad isn't it? This action by ASU is a blatant attempt to defame the student, Christianity, and interfere with her freedom of religion! This is clearly religious persecution!

    When will universities understand you cannot control religious views!

    July 30, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  256. Bill Gibson

    Next universities will be requiring sensitivity training targeted along their preferred political ideology! If you are not conservative/right enough or liberal/left enough you will not get your diploma until you attend the deemed appropriate political ideology sensitivity session!

    July 30, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  257. Stuart Gaines

    I think that it is wrong for the college to require that she take "brain washing classes" so that she will change her beliefs. She states that she knows that because of the word of God that she should be able to graduate with "this knowledge" as well as the teaching she has received. No state school should have the right to make a student "change their mind" because of its beliefs. The word of God is more powerful and will stand above any of man's teachings. I believe that she will be a very good and open minded counsellor because of she has the mind of CHRIST. This country was founded because of our beliefs based on the word of GOD. Have we forgotten? We should be careful who we are fighting against.

    August 1, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  258. Stuart Gaines

    Why have you not stated how many are against her having to take these classes, CNN?

    August 1, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  259. Nancy

    As a professor in a profession MSW program – I have no doubt there is more to the story than is being stated and would personally reserve recommendations or opinion without knowing the whole picture.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
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