Augusta State University is facing a lawsuit filed by graduate student Jennifer Keeton, who alleges that faculty members and administrators threatened to expel her if she did not attend diversity sensitivity workshops and a gay pride parade. Keeton, who is known to be anti-gay, claims that this ultimatum violated her constitutional rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.
Keeton, who is enrolled at the school's counseling program, believes that homosexuality is a choice rather than a "state of being," and has supposedly expressed interest in "conversion therapy" to "treat" gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, according to NBC Augusta. The American Psychological Association passed a resolution in 2009 that stated the APA "concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation" and "that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity."
Keeton's professors contend that in order for Keeton to receive her counseling degree, it is necessary that she be able to identify with the LGBTQ community. Additionally, Keeton's beliefs could violate the American Counseling Association's code of ethics, which states that counselors should refrain from pushing their "values attitudes and beliefs" upon others.
Her lawsuit claims the university is being "ideologically heavy-handed" and says she is being penalized "because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity," according to the Chronicle.
Kathy Schofe, a representative for the university, says that the university "does not discriminate and has policies in place to protect students if they believe they have been discriminated against," according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Media Resources: Atlanta-Journal Constitution 7/23/10; NBC Augusta 7/23/10; the Chronicle 7/22/10; American Psychological Association 2009