Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.08.01
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Inside Higher Ed - Bangalore U. Reserves Slots for Transgender Students
2. The Chronicle of Higher Education - Federal Judge Upholds Dismissal of Counseling Student Who Balked at Treating Gay Clients
3. Inside Higher Ed - The New Clash of Rights
4. The Chronicle of Higher Education - U. of Illinois Retains Controversial Catholicism Instructor but Ends Church Role in Hiring
5. Inside Higher Ed - A Separation and a Return
6. 365Gay.com - Corvino: What I learned at gay leadership camp
7. AnnArbor.com - Lawyers for dismissed EMU student who wouldn't counsel gay client vow to carry fight to Supreme Court if necessary
1. Inside Higher Ed, July 27, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Bangalore U. Reserves Slots for Transgender Students
India's Bangalore University has decided to reserve one slot in each of 52 academic departments for transgendered students, The Hindu reported. Indian universities operate under quota systems for admitting students from various groups that have suffered discrimination.
2. The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 27, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
Federal Judge Upholds Dismissal of Counseling Student Who Balked at Treating Gay Clients
By Peter Schmidt
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Eastern Michigan University by a student who was kicked out of its graduate program in school counseling last year for refusing, on religious grounds, to affirm homosexual behavior in serving clients.
In an order granting summary judgment to the university on Monday, Judge George Caram Steeh of the U.S. District Court in Detroit held that the university's requirement that the student be willing to serve people who are homosexual was reasonable, and did not amount to an infringement of the Christian student's constitutional rights to free speech and free expression of religion.
The university "had a right and duty to enforce compliance" with professional ethics rules barring counselors from being intolerant or engaging in discrimination, and no reasonable person could conclude that a counseling program's requirement that students comply with such rules "conveys a message endorsing or disapproving of religion," Judge Steeh wrote.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian lawyers that is helping to represent the student, Julea Ward, issued a statement on Tuesday saying it plans to appeal the judge's decision.
"Christian students shouldn't be expelled for holding to and abiding by their beliefs," said David French, a senior counsel for the group, which helped out in a similar lawsuit filed against Augusta State University, in Georgia, this month.
Ms. Ward, who entered the Eastern Michigan program in 2006 in hopes of becoming a high-school counselor, had not been disciplined in any way for expressing her views, in classroom discussions or in written course work, that homosexuality was morally wrong. In fact, she had received A's in all of her classes, the judge's summary of her case said.
Her opposition to homosexuality got her into trouble, however, when she enrolled last year in a practicum course that involved counseling real clients in a university-operated clinic. When she encountered a client who wanted to be treated for depression—but previously had been counseled about a homosexual relationship—she asked her faculty supervisor whether she could refer the client to another counselor, explaining that her religious views precluded her from doing anything to affirm the client's homosexual behavior.
To maintain accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, the program that Ms. Ward was in is required to familiarize its students with the ethics codes set forth by the American Counseling Association and the American School Counselor Association. In refusing to affirm the homosexual behavior of clients, Ms. Ward was accused of violating various provisions of the groups' ethics codes, including prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation and an American Counseling Association rule holding that its members should not demonstrate "an inability to tolerate different points of view."
The faculty members overseeing the counseling program offered Ms. Ward three options—voluntarily leaving the counseling program, completing a remediation plan intended to change her thinking about the issue, or requesting a formal hearing. She opted for the hearing, which was held in March 2009 by a panel consisting of five faculty members and a student representative.
At the hearing, Ms. Ward said she refused to affirm any behavior that "goes against what the Bible says" and that she disagreed with, but did not plan to violate, the American Counseling Association's prohibition against therapy aimed at changing a homosexual person's sexual orientation. Afterward, the hearing panel unanimously recommended that she be dismissed from the counseling program. She responded by suing.
Along with her First Amendment claims, Ms. Ward's lawsuit alleged that the university had engaged in viewpoint discrimination and violated her Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection. It also argued that the policy cited in dismissing her amounted to an unconstitutional speech code.
Judge Steeh's ruling held that the policy at issue was not a speech code but "an integral part of the curriculum," and that Ms. Ward's dismissal from the program "was entirely due" to her "refusal to change her behavior," rather than her beliefs.
The ruling said that "instead of exploring options that might allow her to counsel homosexuals about their relationships," Ms. Ward "stated that she would not engage in gay-affirming counseling, which she viewed as helping a homosexual client engage in an immoral lifestyle."
The ruling said, "Her refusal to attempt learning to counsel all clients within their own value systems is a failure to complete an academic requirement of the program."
3. Inside Higher Ed, July 28, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
The New Clash of Rights
By Scott Jaschik
A month ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a dispute involving the right of public universities to enforce anti-bias rules as a requirement for recognition of student organizations. The university's rules were upheld, dealing a blow to Christian student groups who argued that they should be protected by the First Amendment to receive recognition and to bar gay people.
Now a new issue is emerging that involves a similar set of players and issues: public universities, anti-bias rules, and the rights of gay people and Christian students. On Tuesday, a federal judge upheld the right of a counseling program at Eastern Michigan University to kick out a master's student who declined to counsel gay clients in an affirming way -- as required by the university program and counseling associations. The judge found that the university was enforcing a legitimate curricular requirement -- namely that counseling students learn to work with all kinds of clients in ways that did not judge their values or orientations.
In his ruling, Judge George Steeh rejected a lawsuit that charged that the university's actions amounted to an unconstitutional infringement on the religious freedom and free speech rights of Julea Ward, who was removed from the program. The decision -- while a win for the university -- is unlikely to settle the matter.
Ward is backed by the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization that works on behalf of religious students and faculty members and that is almost certain to appeal. And the fund just last week sued Augusta State University on behalf of a student in a situation similar to Ward's, setting up the potential for suits in multiple federal circuits, the sort of conflict that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Both sides in the case see important principles at stake.
David French, a senior counsel to the Alliance Defense Fund, said that in the Supreme Court case and the Eastern Michigan ruling, "a disturbing trend" is emerging of "what I would call excessive deference to university administrators" to define limits around "the market place of ideas." French said that, in contrast to the view that academe should feature "a freewheeling exchange of ideas," these rulings "permit restrictions" on religious students and groups. And he said that the Eastern Michigan ruling may create a new way for public universities to enforce speech codes -- simply by making them into curricular requirements.
But Irene Ametrano, a professor of counseling at Eastern Michigan, said that she was pleased the judge had seen that the issue was not about the right of religious students to hold whatever beliefs they have, but over the right of a professional degree program to enforce requirements that are rooted in a sense of the field's needs and a commitment to equity.
"This isn't about the thought police," she said. "This is about behaviors that are appropriate or not appropriate within counseling." She noted that the university's policies were consistent with the ethics code of the American Counseling Association and said that Eastern Michigan's counseling program couldn't keep its accreditation while ignoring the code.
The Conflict at Eastern Michigan
Ward, the plaintiff in the case, was admitted to the master's program in 2006, with the goal of becoming a high school counselor. Like many counseling graduate programs, the one at Eastern Michigan is a mix of coursework and practical experience, in which students engage in actual counseling.
Ward describes herself as an "orthodox Christian," the judge's ruling said, and was upfront in her courses -- both in discussions and papers -- about her view that homosexuality is "morally wrong." She also wrote in papers that it is "standard practice" for counselors to refer clients whose values they disagree with to other counselors (even though that's not standard practice or consistent with American Counseling Association ethics rules, which specifically require counselors to work in non-judgmental ways with clients whose values differ from their own). While Ward's suit alleged that she faced "disagreeable" reactions to her views from professors, she also earned excellent grades.
The dispute that led to the litigation started in 2009, when Ward was enrolled in the practicum in which she was to engage in actual counseling. Faced with an appointment with a client whose file indicated past discussion of a gay relationship, Ward asked to refer the candidate to another counselor rather than engage in any counseling that could "affirm the client's homosexual behavior." Since this was two hours before the appointment, the supervising counselor canceled the appointment, but set off disciplinary hearings that eventually led to Ward being kicked out of the program.
Eastern Michigan's counseling program -- like many others -- requires its students to practice in ways that are consistent with the counseling association's ethics code, including requirements that bar behavior that reflects an "inability to tolerate different points of view," "imposing values" on clients or discrimination based on a number of factors, including sexual orientation. The counseling association does permit referrals, but they are supposed to be for the good of the client, not for the comfort of the counselor. Typically, a referral that would be seen as legitimate might involve a counselor referring someone to a colleague with expertise on a particular problem.
Ametrano, the Eastern Michigan professor, who was on the review panel that expelled Ward, said that the requirements that counselors work with clients of a range of views and background are essential. She noted that counselors regularly work with clients who make decisions about such matters as birth control, sex, drug use, abortion and many other choices that a counselor may or may not support. And clients come from a variety of backgrounds and sexual orientations. A counselor can't be effective, she said, with litmus tests on who may be helped.
Further, she said that the ethics code is designed in part because Eastern Michigan is training counselors who will work in schools, colleges and social service agencies where referrals aren't possible. So the ability to help anyone, and to do so in a way that "is consistent with client values," is an important, relevant skill as determined by the profession.
"Are you going to refer away half of your clients because you can't reconcile your own issues with the client's value system? We want students to reconcile their biases" and their work, she said. "Being nonjudgmental is a central part of how we work."
She added that Eastern Michigan has had many religious students over the years, with a range of personal views on social issues, who have had no difficulty counseling a range of clients, gay and straight.
Ward's suit charged that the university's rules and the way it enforced them effectively intruded on her religious freedom, making it impossible for her to hold her beliefs while meeting the program requirements. Further, she charged that by adding the counseling association's rules (including its discrimination ban) to program requirements, the counseling program was instituting an illegal speech code.
The Judge's Take on the Issues
Judge Steeh rejected those arguments, finding that the requirements were curricular in nature and thus that the university deserved the right to set its own standards.
He noted a number of differences between the kinds of speech codes that courts have barred and the rules at Eastern Michigan. For instance, he noted that the rules applied only to students in a specific professional program, and that the issues of discrimination were not raised with regard to Ward's views as expressed in class, and that she was free to express those views anywhere. He said that the counseling association's code of ethics, as applied at Eastern Michigan, was "not a prohibition on a counselor making statements about their values and beliefs in a setting other than with a client," and was in fact "quite narrowly drawn" with the purpose of protecting clients served by counselors.
Then Steeh turned to whether the ethics code was widely known as a requirement at the university (he said the evidence showed it was), and to curricular autonomy.
"Courts have traditionally given public colleges and graduate schools wide latitude to create curricula that fit schools' understandings of their educational missions," he noted. Judge Steeh added: "Counseling, by its very nature, relies on a uniquely personal and intimate relationship between the counselor and client to assist in delivering the objectives sought by the client. Educating counselors to provide such services is clearly within the expertise of the universities that provide such programs.... [Ward] knew the university’s curricular goal of teaching students to counsel without imposing their personal values on their clients by setting up boundaries so as not to be judgmental."
In backing Eastern Michigan, Judge Steeh said he wasn't endorsing the counseling association's ethics code, but respecting its right to set a code and the right of universities to follow it. "The ACA Code of Ethics is the industry standard in the field of counseling. EMU did not write the nondiscrimination policy that it adopted into its counseling student handbook. Rather, the university is using the ACA Code of Ethics to govern its counseling students in exactly the same way they will be governed when they are practicing counselors," he wrote. "The court gives universities broad latitude when it comes to matters of pedagogy. In addition, the court should avoid entering into the role of regulating counseling industry standards."
The judge then rejected the idea that the university was engaged in punishing Ward for her views. He noted that she had earned As in courses in which she expressed her views on gay people, and that the university had offered to work with her on learning to counsel people whose sexual orientation she viewed as problematic. Enforcing the code of ethics is a legitimate requirement, he wrote.
"The university had a rational basis for adopting the ACA Code of Ethics into its counseling program, not the least of which was the desire to offer an accredited program. Furthermore, the university had a rational basis for requiring its students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values. In the case of Ms. Ward, the university determined that she would never change her behavior and would consistently refuse to counsel clients on matters with which she was personally opposed due to her religious beliefs -- including homosexual relationships," the judge wrote. "The university offered Ms. Ward the opportunity for a remediation plan, which she rejected. Her refusal to attempt learning to counsel all clients within their own value systems is a failure to complete an academic requirement of the program."
The Dissenting View
French, the lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, said he thought the judge ignored the way Ward was judged by the faculty. "Her belief system was very much at issue," he said, and decisions about her future reflected those statements she made in class as well as her statements about a willingness to counsel gay clients. The only way she could have accepted the idea of learning to work with gay clients, he said, was giving in "to a mandate that she change her belief system."
He also said that the counseling association's rules are a speech code. "It's almost as if the court has created an exception to speech code jurisprudence" that permits them if "you phrase a speech code as a curricular requirement," he said.
Further, French noted that Ward was never accused of mistreating any gay clients, only of recognizing a conflict in values and suggesting that they receive help elsewhere. Asked if he would consider it acceptable for a counseling student to refuse to work with Christian clients, French said "I would be OK with that, if a counselor knows someone who appreciates my value system," adding that "this idea that referral is a negative thing is in the real world almost comical."
Some faculty members have expressed fear that creating an exception for Ward could lead students to demand all kinds of exemptions from rules, and French noted that some have predicted that, if Ward prevailed, someone who believes that "the earth is flat" or a "young Earth" creationist could demand to pass a science course where faculty members reject such views.
But French said that was not the case. "There is a distinction between knowing the material and what you believe in your heart and mind," he said, and such students could be expected to learn and be graded on the material as presented in class.
What about a case, this reporter asked, of a Christian Scientist who might enroll in medical school, do well in anatomy courses, and then -- citing faith -- refuse to recommend to patients that they consider medications or surgery. Would a medical school be justified in refusing to graduate such a student?
While saying he saw "distinctions" between that hypothetical and Ward's case, he said that a medical school might in fact be justified. "I would be OK with a medical school saying that, in the course of a valid clinical program when they did not provide a valid standard of care," he said. "But that's a different situation."
4. The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 29, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
U. of Illinois Retains Controversial Catholicism Instructor but Ends Church Role in Hiring
By Peter Schmidt
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has decided to retain—at least temporarily—an adjunct professor of Roman Catholicism who had faced losing his job over comments he made about homosexuality.
The university has also decided, however, to end a widely criticized financial arrangement under which it had paid the professor with funds from the church.
The professor, Kenneth Howell, will be allowed to continue teaching religion during the fall semester, but his long-term status depends on the outcome of a faculty committee's investigation of whether the university's earlier decision to end his contract violated his academic freedom, Robin Kaler, a university spokeswoman, said Thursday.
Mr. Howell could not be reached Thursday for comment, and the church official designated as a spokesperson on the issue, Patricia M. Gibson, chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, did not return calls.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian lawyers that has represented Mr. Howell, issued a statement in which its senior counsel, David French, said, "We greatly appreciate the university's move to put Professor Howell back in the classroom, but we will be watching carefully to make sure that his academic freedom is protected throughout the university's ongoing process."
Mr. Howell, who has taught classes on Catholicism in the university's religion department since 2001, had been told in May that he would not be kept on this fall, and had blamed the loss of his job on a student's complaint about an e-mail he had sent to students describing how homosexual acts would be viewed under utilitarianism and natural-law theory. The complaining student had argued in an e-mail to the head of the religion department that Mr. Howell's assertions that homosexuality violated natural law amounted to hate speech.
Officials of the campus and the University of Illinois system were barraged with e-mails protesting the decision not to retain Mr. Howell, and subsequently asked the campus Faculty Senate's committee on academic freedom and tenure to conduct an investigation to ensure Mr. Howell's academic freedom had not been infringed.
Pay Came From Church Center
The controversy over Mr. Howell drew attention to an arrangement by which the university was paying him and other instructors of credit-bearing courses on Catholic studies with church funds transferred to the university by its church-supported St. John's Catholic Newman Center, which also selected the instructors.
In a letter on Wednesday to the Alliance Defense Fund, Steven A. Veazie, a university lawyer, said Mr. Howell is being asked to continue teaching there this fall, pending completion of the review by the faculty committee.
"Like any instructor for the university, Dr. Howell will be expected to provide instruction in a manner that adheres to and does not violate constitutional principles precluding the 'establishment of religion' in a university context," Mr. Veazie's letter said. He wrote that the university "is committed to upholding principles of academic freedom and the requirements of the First Amendment," and added, "Nothing in this letter is intended to express or imply that such principles have been violated by previous events."
Under the university's employment offer to Mr. Howell for the fall semester, he would be paid $10,000 to teach Catholic thought. Like other adjuncts, he would continue to work on a semester-to-semester basis, university officials said.
A statement issued by the university said the decision to dissolve the financial arrangement through which he was paid with church-derived Newman Center funds was made at the recommendation of the Faculty Senate's committee on university policies.
"The university values its relationship with the Newman Center and plans to continue offering courses in Catholic studies," the statement said.
5. Inside Higher Ed, July 30, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
A Separation and a Return
By Scott Jaschik
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced Thursday that it is ending an unusual relationship under which an independent Roman Catholic center has for decades nominated instructors to teach Catholic thought at the university and paid their salaries. Further, the university announced that a controversial adjunct who has taught under the relationship would be back for the fall semester.
The decision by the religion department at Illinois to tell that adjunct, Kenneth Howell, that he could no longer teach set off a huge public debate over academic freedom and also led to renewed scrutiny of the highly unusual way Howell has been hired and paid. He has been the only instructor at Illinois who has been nominated and had his salary paid by an outside group.
Thursday's announcements gave some good news to multiple players in the disputes. Faculty leaders, who have been critical of an outside group playing a role in instructor selection, were pleased that, from now on, Catholic thought instructors will be selected and paid by the religion department -- as has been the case for those who teach courses in all other faiths. But defenders of Howell said they were thrilled he would be back in the classroom in the fall.
But more conflict may be just ahead. The university's decision to sever the Catholic center's role in instructor selection is permanent. But the decision to let Howell teach is only for the fall semester. After that, he would have to go through the normal process of being hired by a department that recently decided it would be better off without his services. And the same defenders who are cheering his return say that they will be closely watching the situation, and expect him to have a "long career" at Illinois.
The E-Mail and the Fallout
Howell has taught Catholic thought at Illinois since 2001. He was told by the religion department after the spring semester that he would not be welcomed back, following complaints over an e-mail message he sent to students in his course that drew a complaint from a friend of one of the students. That friend and others viewed the e-mail as anti-gay, while Howell and his defenders have said that he was simply expressing his views and those of Catholic teachings.
With Howell's fans (and some who disagreed with him as well) charging that the university had violated his academic freedom by denying him teaching assignments based on an e-mail in which he expressed opinions, the university announced that a faculty committee would investigate the academic freedom issues involved. Then as faculty members reminded university leaders that the faculty has opposed for decades the arrangement to let an outside group pay for and nominate adjuncts to teach Catholic thought, administrators asked another faculty committee to look at that issue again.
That second faculty group reported its findings this week, noting all the previous faculty committees that had studied the issue and found the arrangement between Illinois and the St. John's Catholic Newman Center to be inappropriate. The committee "reaffirms the judgments of these previous faculty groups and administrators, who recommended termination of the teaching relationship between the university and Newman Center," the faculty committee's report said. "An adjunct faculty member paid by the Newman Center teaching a university credit course has a clear conflict by having, in effect, two employers whose missions and practices may not always agree. Recent events have illustrated what types of conflicts can arise."
The university announced Thursday that it would accept the recommendation -- and that while Catholic studies courses would continue in the religion department, hiring would be made by the department and salaries would be provided by the university.
Nicholas C. Burbules, a professor of education at Illinois who was on the faculty committee that reviewed the ties to the Newman Center, said that the administration's action Thursday was "long overdue" in that instructors can't "have two masters," but need to report to the university. He stressed that the "structural problems" associated with having instructors selected to teach one set of topics go through a different process than instructors for any other topic predated the Howell controversy. "This was the last straw in an ongoing series of difficulties," he said.
The Newman Center referred requests for its reaction to Thursday's announcement to the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, which did not return calls.
A lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a group that defends religious students and faculty members, and that is representing Howell, said that the organization was much more concerned about his continued teaching than about the link between the university and the Newman Center.
Back, But for How Long?
On the question of Howell's future, what became clear Thursday was only the next semester. A university spokeswoman said that since the fall semester is approaching and the committee studying the academic freedom issues in the case isn't about to wrap up its work, the administration decided it was appropriate to assign Howell his regular course in Catholic studies for the fall. The spokeswoman said that the decision does not assure him of any continued teaching assignments after the fall, and that future instructors for Catholic studies will be hired by the department alone.
The Alliance Defense Fund had threatened to sue Illinois if it did not assign courses to Howell, but the spokeswoman said that the university's decision did not involve any agreement with that organization.
Jordan Lorence, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, said Thursday that he was "extremely pleased" that Howell would be "back in the classroom" in the fall. He said, however, that it was important to continue to watch what happens at Illinois to make sure Howell's "academic freedom is protected" and that the committee reviewing the academic freedom issues in his case provides "a full exoneration."
Howell should have "a long career" ahead at Illinois, Lorence said. He acknowledged that adjuncts like Howell don't have job security beyond each semester's assignments. But Lorence said he would be looking for any "pretextual reasons" for not renewing Howell in the future. "They will have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's not an effort to get rid of him because he believes in his Catholicism."
6. 365Gay.com, July 30, 2010
Corvino: What I learned at gay leadership camp
By John Corvino
“Remind me, dear,” I said to my partner Mark on the way to the airport, “what I am absolutely, positively not doing again next year?”
“You are not doing Camp next year,” he dutifully replied.
We had repeated this dialogue many times in the weeks leading up to Campus Pride’s annual Leadership Camp, a week of intense workshops and other activities for LGBTQ and allied college students, which was held this year at Vanderbilt University July 20-25.
This was my second year volunteering as a faculty member, and oddly enough, my second year making a pact with Mark to bar me from returning. My reluctance stemmed not from any doubts about the program’s value. Quite the contrary, Camp is one of the most worthwhile experiences I have ever had the privilege of joining. However…
However, I crave my so-called “free time” in the summer for research and personal projects. It’s the only time when I can have the kind of uninterrupted schedule needed for serious writing. Moreover, I didn’t relish the thought of a week in the Nashville heat in late July, eating college cafeteria food and sleeping on a vinyl mattress in a humid dorm room.
Sleeping, that is, in the rare moments when we were actually permitted rest. Our Camp schedule stretched from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, with sessions on various aspects of LGBTQA leadership and development. At the end of each day we held faculty meetings to “process” what had occurred. Processing has its place, but after a grueling day I’d personally rather chew on tin foil than sit in a circle and share how I’m feeling. (“I’m feeling like someone who’d prefer to be sleeping right now, thanks for asking.”)
So what did I learn at Camp this year?
I learned that there’s a brilliant group of young leaders poised to do amazing things. Indeed, they are already doing amazing things, making progress on their campuses and in their communities, often against powerful odds.
I learned that neat boxes into which we place ourselves and others often do a poor job of capturing reality.
I learned about privilege, a subject that I—like most privileged people—tend to avoid. I hope I learned greater sensitivity to those at the margins of our (already marginalized) community: the gender variant, the differently abled, the economically disadvantaged.
I learned that there’s a time for action, and then there’s also a time for just being in the moment—to reflect, to “process,” to listen and learn. There’s a time to work within existing structures, and a time for revolution.
I learned what the “srat squat” is. And that hardly anybody looks good in bright orange.
I learned that insight sometimes happens in the strangest places—as it did for a friend of mine who was almost moved to tears by a drag performance in the talent show on the last night of Camp. “I had forgotten,” he told me, “about the simple value of joy.”
I learned—yet again—that despite talk of a “post-gay” generation, young people still struggle to form their identities and to express those identities with confidence and integrity. They need our encouragement and support. And we need theirs, too.
Truth be told, one of the things I find unsettling about Camp is that it forces me to confront my own insecurities. As the “Gay Moralist,” speaking and writing and debating about gay issues, I’ve developed a pretty hard shell. One needs it in this line of work.
But one also needs to strip that shell off every once in a while and make oneself vulnerable. As we often said at Camp, disequilibrium is the price of growth. I experienced both disequilibrium and growth in my week with the campers.
I learned from the speakers—including Robyn Ochs, who taught us about the varieties of sexual orientation and expression; Brian Sims, whose coming-out story as a gay all-American college football player spotlighted the better side of human nature; and transgender activist Mara Keisling, who urged us to put our voices into action and have fun in the process.
But mostly I learned from the youth. Their integrity inspires me.
I’m not a sentimental person, and I’m certainly not given to hyperbole. But when students describe Camp as “the best five days of my life thus far,” as so many of them did afterward, I get it. And I just might have to return.
For more about Campus Pride’s work, visit http://www.campuspride.org. To learn more about Camp and see photos, go to the Campus Pride blog at www.CampusPrideBlog.org.
7. AnnArbor.com, August 1, 2010
301 E. Liberty St., Suite 700, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
Lawyers for dismissed EMU student who wouldn't counsel gay client vow to carry fight to Supreme Court if necessary
By Juliana Keeping
Eastern Michigan University won a court battle last week, but the losing side has since declared war.
Monday, a federal court upheld the school's decision to kick Christian graduate student Julea Ward out of its counseling program after she refused to affirm a gay client’s relationship during a practicum. She said she believes homosexuality is immoral and being gay is a choice and therefore could not in good conscience counsel the client.
But Ward’s lawyers said the case is far from over. They will file an appeal, and in the meantime are setting the stage for a battle between the religious rights of students and a university’s power to set and uphold its own ethical, disciplinary and curricular standards. The case could have implications reaching far outside of Ypsilanti.
“If it’s upheld, Christians can be told you have to abandon your beliefs to get a degree in counseling,” said Jeremy Tedesco, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization that works to uphold the rights of religious college students and faculty. “They could be excluded from counseling programming.”
“We have every intention of appealing this case until we prevail,” Tedesco continued. “If it goes to the Supreme Court, so be it.”
In refusing to counsel the client, Ward told her professors she could not violate her religious beliefs regarding a gay client’s counseling needs, so she referred him instead to another counselor. The January 2009 incident led to a set of review hearings, Ward’s dismissal and the lawsuit, which charged EMU violated her constitutional rights to free speech, religion and due process.
In his ruling, Judge George Steeh said the issue at stake was whether EMU had the right to enforce requirements of equity that are rooted in the field, not whether Ward’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated.
In a statement issued Tuesday, EMU officials said they adhered to the Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Ethical Standards of the American School Counselor Association in their decision to dismiss Ward.
Steeh said Ward’s unwillingness to meet with “an entire class” of people was a violation of those codes.
The organization that represented Ward has gone on the offensive. Two days after Ward’s suit was dismissed, the ADF filed a similar lawsuit in a federal court in Georgia. The suit against Augusta State University alleges the school has told a student her Christian views are incompatible with the field of counseling, according to an ADF press release.
What happened to Julea Ward?
In 2006, Ward began EMU’s master’s degree program in counseling. The metropolitan Detroit resident maintained a 3.91 grade point average and was on track to finish her program in May 2010 while working full time as a public school teacher, according to court documents.
On Jan. 26, 2009, she was scheduled to meet with a gay client dealing with relationship issues during a practicum.
Two hours prior to the meeting with the gay student, she asked her supervising professor, Yvonne Callaway, if she could refer the client to another student. Callaway agreed, but Ward’s move prompted the school to schedule an informal hearing because school officials said Ward had violated school and professional standards, including “failure to tolerate different points of view,” court documents show.
In that hearing, EMU officials from the counseling department said they wanted Ward to adhere to a “remediation program” that would require her to affirm and validate homosexual behavior according to the profession's and school’s governing ethics codes, but Ward refused, instead requesting a formal hearing.
In front of the formal review committee March 10, Ward stated she could not in good conscience counsel a client with concerns about a gay relationship in an affirmative way. She would, however, counsel gay clients on any other issue. Ward said that affirming gay relationships “forces me to violate my religious beliefs and conscious.” She said Callaway had laughed at her when she relayed that she would not “sell out” her faith.
In a letter dated March 12, school officials on the four-member review panel notified Ward via letter that they had decided unanimously she would be dismissed from the counseling program immediately.
They found she violated ACA codes of ethics including “Counselors … avoid imposing values that are inconsistent with counseling goals” and that counselors “do not condone or engage in discrimination based on age, culture … sexual orientation.” Ward’s refusal to change her behavior to fit the codes sealed their decision, according to the letter.
Ward appealed to the EMU School of Education dean, who upheld the panel’s decision via letter March 26. She filed a lawsuit the next month. A judge dismissed the EMU Board of Regents and EMU President Susan Martin as defendants in the lawsuit, and Ward’s claims proceeded against faculty members in the counseling program.
Judge Steeh said in his decision Monday that “the dismissal was entirely due to plaintiff’s refusal to change her behavior, not her beliefs.”
But he also acknowledged the “unfriendly and arrogant remarks” made to Ward during the formal hearing.
Transcripts show the panel frequently interrupted Ward, asked Ward if her “brand of Christianity” was superior to that of other Christians and quizzed her on her views on abortion and whether or not she would counsel those from other religions.
Her lawyers later characterized that disciplinary process as a whole as one that used illegal “speech codes” to silence unpopular views, but the judge disagreed, “because the university’s disciplinary policy is not a speech code but is an integral part of the curriculum.”
The judge wrote Ward “distorted the facts” to support her feeling that she was dismissed due to her religious beliefs. EMU faculty did not want Ward to change her beliefs, but were concerned with her refusal to counsel “an entire class of people whose values she did not share,” Steeh wrote.
Now, Ward is trying to find a way to complete a counseling program at another university, Tedesco said.
The case has stirred up strong feelings on both sides of the issue.
“This isn't about the thought police," Irene Ametrano, an EMU professor of counseling and chairwoman of Ward's formal review committee, was quoted in Inside Higher Ed as saying. “This is about behaviors that are appropriate or not appropriate within counseling."
Officials at EMU were celebrating their ruling last week.
“Monday's ruling in the Julea Ward case was a major victory for Eastern, and for universities across the country, as the administration and our legal team pursued an aggressive legal approach to protect academic freedom and the academic integrity of our programs and faculty,” wrote Walter Kraft, vice president for communications, in an e-mail to faculty and staff.
Jay Kaplan, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, agreed that EMU has a right to set its own curriculum and acted properly in dismissing Ward. The ACLU was not involved in the case.
“The school was never saying, ‘You can’t hold your viewpoint,’” said Kaplan, who litigates on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as part of his organization’s LGBT Project.
“As part of their program, students in the counseling program have to learn to focus on the client, and not issues about their values.”
Ward was unable to do this, he said, as her values were at odds with one of the “intrinsic requirements” of the coursework.
Ward’s lawyers, meanwhile, called the dismissal disappointing and unfair and said referring the client was appropriate.
“There are numerous instances where your values could come into conflict with a client’s goals,” Tedesco said. “The professional practice is to offer referral. Who doesn’t bring their values to work in some way?”
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