A student at a US University who was told to change her beliefs on sexual ethics or leave her course has lost a legal challenge against the University, although she is now set to appeal.
Jennifer Keeton, who is studying for a degree in counselling at Augusta State University in Georgia, was told she must undergo re-education training to change her beliefs on traditional sexual morality, training which could include attending gay pride marches.
She has said she is not willing to, and can’t, change her beliefs.
US District Judge J Randal Hall says the University’s actions were “academically legitimate”.
The judge claimed the that case was not about Miss Keeton’s religious beliefs, but about the University’s actions.
He also commented that Miss Keeton’s unwillingness to adhere to a counselling code was an issue.
But the move is part of a trend among universities to apply “religious and ideological litmus tests” in university departments teaching “education, counselling, and social work”, according to Miss Keeton’s legal backers, speaking when the case was first reported.
Miss Keeton is being supported by religious liberty group the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and on Tuesday an Augusta newspaper reported that her legal team is to appeal the decision.
Judge Hall placed a gagging order on both sides so neither is able to comment on his ruling.
Last month ADF Senior Counsel David French said: “Jennifer Keeton has not been accused of mistreating a client”.
“She’s being told, ‘You must change your beliefs or we’ll deny you a degree’”, he said.
Under the programme set out by the University, Miss Keeton would be required to write a report each month on how the re-education assignments have influenced her beliefs so the faculty can “decide the appropriateness of her continuation in the counselling program”.
Recently, ADF successfully resolved a case at Missouri State University where social work student, Emily Brooker, was punished for declining to support homosexual adoption.