Jennifer Keeton wants to be a school counselor. But she doesn't want to work with gay people unless she can convert them.
And now she's suing for the right to be let loose into the world as a renegade social worker rescuing those gays.
Of course that's not how this Christian student at Augusta State University describes her fight.
In court documents secured by ABC, Keeton says her "constitutional rights of speech, belief, and religious exercise" have been violated by the "ideologically heavyhanded
impositions of representatives of Augusta State University (ASU)."
The problem? The school won't let her graduate from the College of Education’s School Counselor master's degree program until she submits to sensitivity training on tolerance of LGBT individuals.
So what's the problem here?
Keeton does indeed have a right to disagree with gays. Or be a homophobe (tomayto, tomahto).
Just as the school has a right to determine someone doesn't meet the criteria for graduation for a particular degree.
Imagine expecting a school to grant you a master's degree as a nurse practitioner if you are still refusing to stick a needle in someone's arm because you don't like blood.
In the case of a school counselor, the American School Counselor Association describes their need to serve all students:
"Professional school counselors identify a philosophy based on school counseling theory and research/evidence-based practice that recognizes the need for all students to benefit from the school counseling program."
Note the word "all."
The federal government's rules for school counseling programs also call for administrators to "describe how any diverse cultural populations, if applicable, would be served through the program."
It's up to a college to set up the criteria for a degree and for students to investigate those criteria before they enter. In Keeton's case, she could have chosen a different career or a different program for social work, thereby protecting her rights to "speech, belief, and religious exercise."
Image via kevindooley/Flickr