Saturday, March 27, 2010

MI Grad Student Dismissed for Christian Beliefs

Judge advances lawsuit:

Julea Ward had nearly completed a graduate degree program in counseling at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) when she was dismissed for refusing to affirm homosexual behavior as morally acceptable and then refusing to enter a "remediation" program designed to demonstrate the "error of her ways."

UPDATE 12/10/12: Appeals court supports Christian graduate counseling student expelled from Eastern Michigan University

UPDATE 1/27/12: Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overrules lower court; lawsuit will proceed

UPDATE 3/15/11: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a brief in support of Julea Ward

UPDATE 7/29/10: Federal Judge OKs Christians Expelled over Morals

UPDATE 4/25/10: Video from ADF

-- From "Gay Rights and Anti-Gay Liberties" by Wendy Kaminer, Contributing Editor, The Atlantic 3/11/10

It should be stressed that Ward was not asserting a prerogative to counsel gay clients in spite of her views; instead, she was relying on the option of referring them to other therapists, and she had done so in a clinical program. Still, she was dismissed for violating EMU policies, which incorporated American Counseling Association ethical codes and included an obligation to "tolerate different points of view," as well as prohibitions on "unethical, threatening, or unprofessional conduct" or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, (among other characteristics, including religious belief).

. . . The conviction that some beliefs (and the people who harbor them) are more worthy of protection and respect than others helps explain . . . dismissal of Julea Ward [who was] accused of violating rules established by private professional associations. State agencies adopt these rules voluntarily and must enforce them in accordance with constitutional guarantees of free speech. But Alliance Defense Fund attorneys claim that they're beginning to see a spate of cases involving complaints to state boards against counseling professionals who consider homosexuality immoral. They cite a complaint filed (unsuccessfully) against Texas therapist whose name appeared on the website of Exodus International, a Christian ministry devoted to "healing" and re-programming gays and lesbians: "We believe that God wants to heal homosexuals through His church. Our goal is to equip you for that task!"

Are therapists who offer their services through Exodus International and similar organizations unqualified to practice their professions? Should they be denied state licenses? . . . it is not the prerogative of the state to withhold or withdraw licenses from people on the basis of their religious beliefs, except in extraordinary cases, for compelling reasons: a teacher whose religious beliefs prevent her from teaching girls or gay students or ethnic minorities should not be licensed to teach in public schools.

. . . Julea Ward was not accused of misconduct either, and she had complied with policies directing counselors whose values conflicted with prospective clients to refer the clients elsewhere. She was dismissed from EMU for mis-belief.

Click here to read the entire opinion above
, by Wendy Kaminer, author, lawyer and civil libertarian.

From "Judge advances student's lawsuit against school" © 2010 WorldNetDaily 3/27/10

A federal judge will allow to continue a lawsuit by a former student against a long list of university officials who tossed her out of a graduate counseling program after she said her Christian beliefs would not allow her to affirm homosexual behavior.

She sued following "disciplinary proceedings" that resulted from her request that a training class "client" be referred to another student because she could not counsel him concerning his homosexual relationship, according to the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom.

When the case was filed, WND called president Susan W. Martin's office for comment and was referred to a media relations office. A statement release later by Pam Young, director of communications at EMU, did not address the student's dismissal.

Young said, "Although Eastern Michigan University does not comment on pending litigation, we are a diverse campus with a strong commitment not to discriminate on the basis of gender, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression."

Ward was dismissed from the program March 12, 2009, and the dean of the college of education affirmed the decision on March 26, according to the ADF.

The court's decision, written by U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh, said, "Ward has sufficiently [pled] and come forward with evidence that EMU defendants' act of dismissing Ward violated First and Fourteenth Amendment rights so clearly established that a reasonable official in their position would have clearly understood that they were under an affirmative duty to refrain from such conduct."

The judge said there are "genuine issues of material fact" about the school's "true motivations" for dismissing Ward from the program. Further, the judge concluded, the student's actions to avoid in advance a counseling session for which she had reservations probably actually followed professional ethical guidelines, instead of breaking them as the school accused.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.