The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has heard arguments in a religious liberty case that could determine whether a college has the right to require students to profess certain beliefs about homosexuality in order to get a degree.
Augusta State University, in east Georgia, put counseling student Jennifer Keeton on academic probation in 2010 after she acknowledged in private conversations and during class that she disagreed with homosexuality. School administrators claimed Keeton said it would be hard for her to counsel gay clients, a stance they said violated ethical standards for licensed counselors, as put forth by the American Counseling Association.
Faculty members also faulted Keeton for saying she wanted to work with conversion therapy -- which aims to help clients stop living a homosexual lifestyle -- after graduation. And the faculty feared Keeton might harm middle and high school students she was scheduled to work with as part of her degree plan, said Cristina Correia, the state attorney who argued the school's case.
"The university has a responsibility when putting students in a practicum and graduating them," Correia told the court during oral arguments Nov. 29 in Atlanta. "When you have that kind of evidence, the faculty could not, under their ethical standards, put that student in a clinical setting without further remediation."
After putting her on probation, school administrators required Keeton to complete a remediation plan that included going to gay pride events, attending sensitivity training and writing monthly reflection papers. Keeton declined to participate in the plan, and the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit on her behalf in July 2010.
Via Carl Olson who adds a personal anecdote that ought to also open some eyes:
A couple of years ago, my wife and I had to take nearly forty hours of classes from the Oregon Department of Human Services in order to pursue the adoption of a young boy from another state (Dominic's adoption was finalized this past February). It was a lesson in well-intentioned, very polite, state-faciliated, tax-financed intimidation, especially when it came to issues of sexual morality (and race, but that's another story). The class of about 60 potential foster parents (the 75% of whom were seeking to become foster parents of their own biological grandchildren) were informed in no uncertain way that "being gay" is a wonderful and natural way of being, and that they could not—in any form or fashion—discourage a child from "exploring" and "expressing" their sexuality. Moreover, foster parents were encouraged (quite strongly, in fact) to learn more about the joy of being "gay" by reading "gay" literature, attending "gay pride" events, and so forth. It was clearly communicated, in various ways, that one's religious and personal beliefs meant nothing; they weren't to be expressed or allowed.
What is commonly called the pursuit of gay rights and equality will logically and consequentially mean that one day soon, traditional morality will be no more and anyone attempting to uphold those traditional beliefs will pay a steep price.
All under the banner of love, tolerance, and open-mindedness.