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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit by anti-gay former Georgia grad student

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ATLANTA — A federal judge has ruled that a Georgia university did not violate the First Amendment rights of a graduate student when it ordered her to attend “diversity sensitivity training” because her anti-gay beliefs were “incompatible with the standards of her desired profession.”

U. S. District Court Judge Judge J. Randal Hall last Friday dismissed the lawsuit against Augusta State University, and said that the plaintiff, Jennifer Keeton, who was enrolled in the school’s Counselor Education Program, was aware of the conduct standards set by the University and that she failed to prove those standards suppressed her free speech.

Jennifer Keeton

Keeton, 24, sued the University in July 2010, claiming that faculty and university staff had violated her rights to free speech and the free exercise of her Christian faith when it told her that, in order to stay in the program, she would have to change her beliefs about homosexuality.

Keeton had said in and out class that, according to her Christian beliefs, homosexuality is “immoral, unnatural, and a ‘lifestyle choice’ that can be reversed through “conversion therapy.”

Faculty members said they were concerned that Keeton’s anti-gay beliefs would interfere with her ability to become an effective practitioner, as they conflicted with the professional ethical standards set forth by the American Counseling Association and the American School Counselor Association.

Keeton alleged the school-ordered remediation plan — which included attending diversity workshops, reading articles about counseling LGBT students and submitting monthly writing assignments detailing what she learned — violated her rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

With the help of Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization, Keeton filed suit seeking a court order allowing her to stay in the program without completing remediation, a declaration that her rights were violated, and monetary damages.

The court had previously refused to issue a preliminary injunction preventing Keeton’s expulsion from the program, a decision affirmed by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December.

In that decision, the court said that Keeton was unlikely to prevail in her lawsuit, and as a result, was expelled from the program.

In dismissing her suit on Friday, Hall wrote in his decision that Keeton was “not being unlawfully compelled to affirm homosexual behavior because she would be required to do so only in the context of private meetings with clients — not in public statements.”

“The remediation plan imposed on Keeton pursuant to those policies placed limits on her speech and burdened her religious beliefs, but, as the allegations show, the plan was motivated by a legitimate pedagogical interest in cultivating a professional demeanor and concern that she might prove unreceptive to certain issues and openly judge her clients,” the court opinion stated.

“The allegations show, in sum, that while Keeton was motivated by her particular religious beliefs, defendants were not,” Hall ruled.

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34 more reader comments:

  1. She can try to convert someone to be “ex-gay” but she just might want to find a new career profession. Or try to be supportive. Just saying.

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:01pm
  2. … Good! Time-TO-transfer to Liberty Univ. H8′ER!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:02pm
  3. I live in Augusta Ga… This has been an issue for a couple of years. I’m glad sanity finally prevailed

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:06pm
  4. um… she wants to be a counselor… you have to put your personal feelings aside for something like that… stupid bitc

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:06pm
  5. shrewfaced nasty bimbo. lol on her figuring out now that shes chosen the wrong career for her narrowminded views of the world

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:08pm
  6. I would NOT want her as my counselor!

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:09pm
  7. Hooker needs to put less time into berating gays & more cash into a weave that looks less like split-end straw.

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:10pm
  8. and now the stupid cunt is forever branded a homophobic bigot!

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:12pm
  9. Justice was served!

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:15pm
  10. she is scary looking O.O

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:19pm
  11. She is the kind of person that keeps the real psychologists in business.

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:25pm
  12. Religion poisons everything.

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:37pm
  13. it sure does glad the judge dismissed it

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 11:00pm
  14. you are Dissed miss…this Aunt Gaybiella

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 11:45pm
  15. its called tolerance u dumb bitch.

    Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 11:58pm
  16. she doesn’t have to accept it she can be a dumb homophobic redneck all her life if she wants. but judgeing by her face she looks like a transexual.

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 12:00am
  17. she has the right to her beliefs as we all do…..if I made blonde jokes I’d have my right to them but i love people and would never do anything to hurt others

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 12:03am
  18. When your beliefs are hurtful to your patients, there’s a problem. Keep em’ to yourself or ditch them. Freaken ignorant bitch, I hope from now on when anyone sees her face they think “Wow, there’s that stupid, homophobic bitch off the news. What an idiot.” She deserves it, as it will probably be a tremendous learning experience for herself and be beneficial in the long run for her mental state.

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 12:10am
  19. Biatch!

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 12:13am
  20. Wow!! I wonder what her girlfriend thinks of this…

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 1:29am
  21. +1 for ze good guys, -1 for ze bigots

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 1:43am
  22. HAHAHAHA!

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 1:43am
  23. While I was glad to read this article and happy about the outcome, I’m not too excited about most of the ugly comments here – most folks don’t want to be judged by strangers, I figure it’s best to return the favor.

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 1:48am
  24. The last thing we need is for the counselors charged with helping people spew this kind of disgusting hate. Thankfully she will not be in a position to exacerbate the issues of LGBT youth.

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 2:32am
  25. lol.

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 2:53am
  26. Can this be used as precedence to knock down all those “right of conscience” pharmacist laws?

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 3:04am
  27. I’m happy about the outcome but I am really disturbed and disgusted by what I’m reading in the comments. We are upset because she is intolerant and that gives us the right to call her dumb, a bitch, a slut, and a cunt? Really because that shows tolerance. These comments remind me of a recent controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh. Just saying. Btw I would be seriously offended if I identified as trans and read your comment Giamarie. Sounds a bit transphobic to me.

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 5:08am
  28. Very disappointed in how ugly these comments are. Calling people names is no better than the groups calling YOU names. And you wonder why people are against the LGBTQ community? They don’t appreciate being called names and swept into big generalized groups either.

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 5:24am
  29. IDGAF;what anyone says,shes a DUMB ASS BITCH and now EVERYONE knows it,i hope shes proud of her self.She better hope life dont knock the fuck outa her…karmas goinna be her worst enemy…and like i said idgaf if you dont like my comment,get over it,she voiced her opinion and heres mine,theres nothing wrong w being lgbt,but there is something wrong w her,i mean there was fucken homosexuals in the bible!

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 6:00am
  30. I have said right along i best weapon to win the battle of LGBT rights will be in the court system not in politics. GOOD JOB!

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 6:44am
  31. how can some one so educated act like a idote!

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 7:33am
  32. When I was in school for social work we weren’t taught that we couldn’t keep our personal and religious beliefs that conflicted with our professional codes, and there plenty of people with prejudices about race, class, and sexual orientation, but we did need to learn to acknowledge and address our biases and be professional. This woman should have more than aware of her issues as a counselor and been working on addressing them way before getting into graduate school.

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 9:30am
  33. Also, I’m sure she figured that she would somehow never have to work with LGBTQ clients, which shows how ignorant she is because minority sexual orientations exist in every population and constantly referring LGBTQ clients because you can’t deal with them means you obviously aren’t a competent professional.

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 9:35am
  34. Bye bitch! You 15 minutes of HOMPHOBIC, BIGOTED fame is OVA!

    Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 1:20pm