A female graduate student at Augusta State University is suing the school because she claims the public institution has violated her First Amendment rights by forcing her to accept homosexuality in order to graduate from her program in counselor education.
Jennifer Keeton, a Christian who believes that being gay is a choice (she thinks gays suffer from "identity confusion"), is represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal defense organization. WRDW reports:
At the end of the first year, she was presented with a remediation plan, or courses to improve in certain areas. That plan includes classes to improve writing and grammar skills, as well as workshops to make her more sensitive to the gay population — something her instructors say is necessary for her to be an effective counselor.
"The school counseling faculty has decided that my views are not acceptable for me or to share with other students," she says in a video statement produced by the Alliance Defense Fund. "They have required a remediation plan in which the end result would be me altering my beliefs or being dismissed from the program."
In a letter to Keeton, program directors say that is not the case.
In the letter, associate director Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley points to what she calls Keeton's "belief that you possess a special knowledge about the way that other people should live their lives, and that others need to adopt a similar set of values."
The letter goes on to say that "the content of [Keeton's] moral or religious beliefs is not in question."
According to the remediation plan, program directors are concerned about Keeton's ability to effectively council people who are gay or lesbian, citing class papers and comments where Keeton has disagreed with the gay "lifestyle."
The letter also cites an email from Keeton in which she says: "my Christian moral views are not just about me. I think the Bible's teaching is true for all people and it shows the right way to live."
Watch a news clip on the controversy, which includes interviews with students from Augusta State University who have varying opinions on the matter, AFTER THE JUMP.
Also, watch the short clip put together by the Alliance Defense Fund in which Keeton is interviewed and talks about being forced to her ditch her "biblical beliefs."