Augusta State Student Claims She Was Punished for Anti-Gay Views

Published: July 27, 2010

AUGUSTA, Ga.— Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed suit against Augusta State University July 21 on behalf of a counseling student who claims she was told to change her views opposing homosexuality.

The student, Jennifer Keeton, has been told that her beliefs that homosexuality is immoral and a lifestyle choice are incompatible with the prevailing views of the counseling profession. In court papers filed, Keeton claims she was told to stop sharing her beliefs with others and that she must change her beliefs in order to graduate from the counseling program.

Augusta State ordered Keeton to undergo diversity sensitivity training, complete additional remedial reading, and write papers to describe their impact on her beliefs.

Keeton and her representatives, however, say that the school is violating her rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion.

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“A public university student shouldn’t be threatened with expulsion for being a Christian and refusing to publicly renounce her faith, but that’s exactly what’s happening here. Simply put, the university is imposing thought reform,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French. “Abandoning one’s own religious beliefs should not be a precondition at a public university for obtaining a degree.”

According to a press release by the ADF, its attorneys filed the complaint and a motion for preliminary injunction in Keeton v. Anderson-Wiley with the U.S. District Court for the District of Georgia. ADF is currently litigating a similar case involving a counseling student at Eastern Michigan University and successfully resolved a case at Missouri State University. Also in litigation is a case involving a Georgia counselor fired by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because she would not agree to affirm homosexual behavior as morally acceptable.

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