Saturday, August 21, 2010

Preliminary Injunction Denied In Suit By Counseling Student Objecting To Remediation Plan

In Keeton v. Anderson-Wiley, (SD GA, Aug. 20, 2010), a Georgia federal district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction in a suit by a graduate student in counseling at Augusta State University who was required to complete a Remediation Plan regarding counseling of homosexual clients in order to remain in the program. The action was taken after the faculty expressed concern that student Jennifer Keeton might not be able to separate her personal, religious-based views on homosexuality from her professional counseling duties. Keeton alleged that the school's action violated her free speech, free exercise, equal protection and due process rights. (See prior posting.)

Judge Hall, emphasizing that "despite any suggestion to the contrary, this is not a case pitting Christianity against homosexuality" said that he "will not, especially at this early stage of the litigation, serve as an 'ersatz dean'."  The court continued:
the Remediation Plan was imposed upon Plaintiff not because of mere disagreement with her viewpoints, but because of Plaintiff's inability to resist imposing her moral viewpoint on counselees, a position contrary to the ethical rules incorporated into the ASU counseling program's curriculum....  [I]ncorporation of the ACA [American Counseling Association] Ethical Code into the ASU counseling program's curriculum, and requiring students to adhere to the Code as a curricular requirement, appears at this time to be "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns"....
To the extent that Defendants compel Plaintiff to speak at all by requiring that she "affirm" GLBTQ conduct in a counseling setting, they demand nothing more than Plaintiff's adherence to the ACA Code of Ethics....
Yesterday's Augusta Chronicle reports on the decision.