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Thu Dec 13, 2012, 04:47 AM

Mich. Counseling Student Expelled Over Refusal to Treat Gay Client, Wins Case

Source: edge on the Net

by Jason St. Amand
Web Producer / Staff Writer
Wednesday Dec 12, 2012



Julea Ward

A counseling student from Eastern Michigan University, who was expelled from the school’s counseling program over her refusal to treat a gay client, has resolved her legal case against the college, the Detroit Free Press reports. It was announced on Tuesday that officials from EMU have settled Julea Ward’s 2009 lawsuit and that the college will awarded a $75,000 settlement.

"EMU has made the decision that is in the best interest of its students and the taxpayers of the state of Michigan to resolve the litigation rather than continue to spend money on a costly trial," Walter Kraft, EMU’s vice president for communications, said in a statement.

The lawsuit was initially filed three years ago by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian legal group, on behalf of Ward, who was training to be a grade school counselor through the college’s Graduate School Counseling Program. Officials from EMU expelled the student because of her views on the LGBT community as she declined a gay client treatment.

Officials argued that she was not following the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics but Ward cited her religious beliefs as the reason why she couldn’t help the gay client. In January, Ward was allowed to argue "religious discrimination" in her suit against the school.

Read more: http://www.edgeonthenet.com/news/national//139782/mich_counseling_student_expelled_over_refusal_to_treat_gay_client,_wins_case



- The only upside here is that she won't be allowed to ''counsel'' anyone with her ignorance, bigotry and stupidity, so there's that. But whomever made this decision at EMU should have his/her ass kicked.....

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Reply Mich. Counseling Student Expelled Over Refusal to Treat Gay Client, Wins Case (Original post)
DeSwiss Dec 2012 OP
dballance Dec 2012 #1
Happyhippychick Dec 2012 #2
Selatius Dec 2012 #3
RobinA Dec 2012 #4
Kelvin Mace Dec 2012 #5
RobinA Dec 2012 #14
Kelvin Mace Dec 2012 #18
Politicub Dec 2012 #20
Skittles Dec 2012 #28
John2 Dec 2012 #8
RobinA Dec 2012 #13
Politicub Dec 2012 #19
John2 Dec 2012 #6
sinkingfeeling Dec 2012 #7
Marrah_G Dec 2012 #9
primavera Dec 2012 #10
RobinA Dec 2012 #15
primavera Dec 2012 #17
RobinA Dec 2012 #23
primavera Dec 2012 #25
CBGLuthier Dec 2012 #27
Tempest Dec 2012 #11
RobinA Dec 2012 #16
Sivafae Dec 2012 #21
Tempest Dec 2012 #29
ProgressiveProfessor Dec 2012 #12
struggle4progress Dec 2012 #22
happyslug Dec 2012 #24
Trillo Dec 2012 #26
Rhiannon12866 Dec 2012 #30

Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 05:17 AM

1. What a crock

Just as soon as she agrees I'm allowed to argue Zeus doesn't agree with commonly accepted standards I'll go with it. Until then she's a jerk using her religion to justify prejudice.

How anyone in her profession can exclude homosexuals baffles me. It's really not that different from excluding Christians from treatment if you are atheist or Muslim. Let's see how well that would go over.

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 07:46 AM

2. When I applied to the counseling program I was specifically asked if I had a problem treating LGBT.

She should have been expelled and it stinks that she got any money.

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 08:19 AM

3. This looks like a cop-out on the school's part. It likely just didn't want to pay for a full trial.

I do agree that the expulsion was justified. A patient should be helped regardless of their sexual orientation, and for that matter their race, color, national origin, and gender.

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 08:37 AM

4. I'm Going To Have To Differ

As a former counseling student and current therapist, there is another way of looking at this. Do you want a counselor who would prefer not to treat a person like you, but has been forced to do so? I sure don't. I am a female. If a therapist doesn't particularly like females or prefers not to treat them, I hope and pray he will not do so, and I hope even more that he won't be forced to do so. Should I be forced to treat a person whose whole life is religion? I am an atheist. He shouldn't want me as a counselor and I cannot do my best for him. Not because I have anything against him, some of my best freinds are religious, but because I cannot deep down understand him.

Look, counseling is very personal. Even for non-bigots, there are people we are better at treating than other people. No one should have to go to a therapist who is being mandated to treat him or her, and no therapist should be put in a position of having to treat someone they cannot feel empathy for.

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Response to RobinA (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:25 AM

5. Here's the problem

When you are in a practice, you certainly have some latitude about the clients you wish to help. I would certainly think people gravitate to helping the people they are best at helping.

But, she was a student. When you are a student, you have no choice since you are being taught to treat and understand everyone. You are also being taught proper treatment protocols. You do not get to say "I won't treat men because all men are animals" because:

1) It is not true.

2) You may have to treat men one day.

The school bailed on this and they have now encouraged this kind of law suit in the future.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:05 PM

14. So...

you wouldn't mind being treated by a therapist who thinks all men are animals but is not allowed to avoid treating men?

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Response to RobinA (Reply #14)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:53 PM

18. Again,

I am making the distinction between school and practice.

Should a surgeon be allowed to skip training on female cadavers because he believes it is immoral to see women nude?

This woman could join a "Christian" practice that wouldn't take gays as patients, but she cannot refuse to treat gays while she is learning the discipline.

If I am training as a doctor and hate men, I can always practice gynecology/obstetrics AFTER I leave med school. But while I am in med school learning to be a doctor I am required to treat men and women. You cannot omit parts of the curriculum you disagree with. If you are going to get a degree in biology, you cannot refuse to take classes in evolutionary biology because you don't believe in evolution.

If you want the degree, you adhere to the curriculum.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #18)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:59 PM

20. If she does refuse to treat gay patients as a student...

She's going to be a really awful counselor if she gets certified. My hunch is you learn about people as individuals - gay and straight - during the period of time you counsel students as part of the program.

Otherwise, what good is the training? You never know who us going to walk through the door.



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Response to RobinA (Reply #14)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:53 PM

28. how easy is it to get a degree to be a therapist?

isn't there psychological testing? Should a fucking self-proclaimed BIGOT be allowed to counsel anyone?

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Response to RobinA (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:39 AM

8. Then I

 

would think you are in the wrong profession. I think most if not every profession have ethical codes of conduct.

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Response to John2 (Reply #8)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:01 PM

13. Yes

It is unethical to treat someone with whom you cannot remain nonjudgmental. There are very few people who can be nonjudgmental about every single person who could possibily walk through the door.

I see no purpose to forcing people (therapists) to be treat people they are not comfortable treating. It's about the patient, not political correctness. No one benefits from a disapproving therapist.

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Response to RobinA (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:58 PM

19. Ethically, she needs to reveal her anti-gay bias so her clients can make their own decisions

It's immoral for her to do otherwise when accepted psychology does not recognize homosexuality as something to be reversed or "cured."

I personally think she's a quack. Who knows what else she disagrees with in the DSM-IV that she foists on unsuspecting clients.

Deception is unethical in medicine.

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:35 AM

6. I don't

 

see how the school can escape being sued themselves, by agreeing with this decision? Don't they receive Federal Funds, and by this student acting as an employee, discriminated against another student? So why should she be rewarded for this? She could use religious beliefs to discriminate for just about anything.

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:37 AM

7. A settlement that leaves the rules intact isn't a 'win'.

"The resolution of the lawsuit leaves the university’s policies, programs, and curricular requirements intact," Kraft said. "The faculty retains its right to establish, in its learned judgment, the curriculum and program requirements for the counseling program at Eastern Michigan University."

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:39 AM

9. Oh the irony...........

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:04 AM

10. I wish the university could have held out

As a lawyer, it depresses the hell out of me to see how many cases that really need to become precedent because the parties can't afford to bring the action before the courts. The cases that go the distance are ones brought by the rich and powerful and then we wonder why our laws so heavily slanted towards the rich and powerful. We really need more Robin Hood lawyers out there.

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Response to primavera (Reply #10)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:13 PM

15. What Precedent Do You Wish to Set?

The only precedent I'm seeing here is that one can be expelled from school for unpopular thought. Sounds dangerous to me, but then, I'm a wacky ACLU liberal.

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Response to RobinA (Reply #15)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:37 PM

17. Well, I was mostly speaking generally

There are an awful lot of important issues that never receive judicial review - and thus never contribute to the body of jurisprudence - because the cost of bringing legal action is prohibitively high.

In the instant case, I would have liked to have seen the issues fleshed out more. I'm not sure, but I don't think I share your belief that this is necessarily a freedom of speech issue, although I do admit that I think that we Americans in general, and the ACLU in particular, can sometimes go a bit overboard on the sanctity of free speech. Hate speech, for example, or incitement to violence, are forms of speech that I do not believe should be protected. But setting that aside for the moment, I think there's a really interesting question here of the extent to which academic institutions and professional associations need to be deferential to persons who refuse to practice their professions on religious/moral grounds. The analogy that springs to my mind is Catholic pharmacists refusing to dispense birth control pills. Certainly, I understand that Catholics may have religious convictions that cause them to perceive contraception as sinful, and that's great, more power to them, they should not be required to use contraception. But the necessary function of a pharmacist is to dispense those medications that a physician and his/her patient determine are appropriate for the patient's health and well being. If your religious beliefs prevent you from fulfilling that function, terrific, no one's forcing you to practice that profession. But is it appropriate to voluntarily enter into a profession and then refuse to perform its duties because of your religious beliefs? To me, this seems analogous to the incident described in the article. The student is not merely expressing a personal opinion about homosexuality, which certainly would be an expression of free speech. Rather, she's refusing to fulfill the requirements of a degree and a profession, but still demanding that the university award her the degree despite her refusal to fulfill its requirements. That seems very different to me than merely expressing a personal opinion.

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Response to primavera (Reply #17)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:22 PM

23. Personally I Do Not

feel it is appropriate to enter a profession and refuse to perform its duties, but I am not suggesting codifying my belief into law. One of my issues here is with the academy end of things. If someone were to refuse to hire her I do not have a problem. I'm not comfortable with the school telling her how she can think. After all, it is from the academy that we get a lot of novel and originally very controversial ideas that later turn into, well, foundations for whole systems of political and philosopical thought. (No, I am not saying that is the case here, but it's the slippery slope).

I also think the doctor prescribing contraception is different from the therapist in that the doctor or pharmacist handing out birth control pills is not changing the efficacy of the product with his disapproval. A therapist disapproving of a gay person should not be treating that person, because her disapproval will taint the product. Forcing her to do so hurts the client and doesn't further the cause of nondiscrimination.

The extreme of this issue is refusing to treat sex offenders, probably the only group that it is acceptable to refuse to deal with in counseling circles. Inwardly I have very little respect for this refusal, but I also believe that if you don't want to treat sex offenders on some moral grounds you should not be treating sex offenders, because you won't be any good at it.

I agree that too many things don't get before a judge due to the cost. I work in mental health with the seriously mentally ill. I day does not go by when I don't say to myself, "If these people could only afford a lawyer..." Of course, in mental health, the law is a VERY blunt instrument always, and all too often a boomerang.

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Response to RobinA (Reply #23)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:30 PM

25. VERY thoughtful post, thank you!

The distinction you draw between counselors being compelled to provide therapy services for which they lack the ability to provide zealously and the pharmacist being required to dispense pills, the quality of which it is not in their ability to modify, is an excellent point. The similarity I still see between the two is that it doesn't serve the public interest to have people involved in professions which they are - for whatever reason - unable to perform. In many sparsely inhabited parts of the country, there may not be a variety of pharmacists from which to choose. If the pharmacist within your reach happens to be one who is unwilling to discharge his/her duties, you, as the patient, may not be able to obtain the medications you require in a timely enough fashion to be of help. What if, bolstered by the example of a colleague pharmacist refusing to dispense contraception without being subjected to professional repercussions, another pharmacist decides to follow that example? And then another? How long before the patient living in some staunchly red state has to scour the state and drive hundreds of miles to obtain the medication they require?

In the same way, it seems like you're opening a similar Pandora's box if you allow therapists to obtain licensure and practice when their personal religious beliefs interfere with their ability to practice their professions. Do we really want to legitimize a professional culture in which practitioners are at liberty to pick and choose which aspects of their profession they deem un/savory? Do we want to subject patients/consumers to the necessity of having to search far and wide to find a practitioner willing to perform his/her duties? Surely, there must come a point somewhere at which we have to say: "Look, this is the job. You want to be a garbage collector, you're going to have to pick up garbage. If your personal morality prevents you from picking up garbage, then don't be a garbage collector."

I do think that the academy could have handled the situation better: rather than expelling her for her distasteful views, they could have (and would have been on stronger ground if they had) simply said, "fine, you want to be a bigot, great, but don't expect us to endorse your application for admission into a profession in which personal bigotry has no place. Go be an electrical engineer or whatever, where your personal beliefs won't adversely affect your professional conduct."

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Response to RobinA (Reply #15)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:40 PM

27. Do You Support these students and their unpopular thoughts?

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:46 AM

11. She might as well find a new career

The publicity alone will make it difficult for her to find work outside of a religious organization, and there's not many of those who provide those kinds of services.

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Response to Tempest (Reply #11)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:15 PM

16. There Are Whole

counseling programs that earn one a Masters in Divinity. Pastoral counseling, there's tons of it. OK, not TONS, but plenty.

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Response to RobinA (Reply #16)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:04 PM

21. Then that is where she should have been seeking her degree. nt

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Response to RobinA (Reply #16)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 02:19 AM

29. Last I heard counseling by religious organizations are being cut

Donations to churches is way down in this country and churches are cutting programs and closing churches in response.

My city has seen four churches close in the last two years because of a lack of funding. I live next door to a church that is in foreclosure and will be closing as soon as they move out their stuff. We're worried because a drug and alcohol rehab organization wants to move in and with an elementary school less than a block away, we don't want to see here.

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:28 AM

12. What is missing is what the plaintiff has been doing since

It does not appear that she was reinstated but did she xfer to another program?

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:07 PM

22. EMU to pay $75,000 to counseling student Julea Ward who refused to counsel gay client

4:18 PM, December 10, 2012

... “EMU has made the decision that is in the best interest of its students and the taxpayers of the state of Michigan to resolve the litigation rather than continue to spend money on a costly trial,” said Walter Kraft, EMU’s vice president for communications, in a written statement.

“The matter has been resolved in the amount of $75,000. The university’s insurance company, M.U.S.I.C. (Michigan Universities Self-Insurance Corporation), will pay the cost of the settlement.”

The lawsuit was filed in April 2009 by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Julea Ward, a student in the university’s Graduate School Counseling Program, where she was training to become a K-12 school counselor. Ward said the university dismissed her from the program because of her religious beliefs after she declined to counsel a gay client, instead referring the client to another counselor. The university said she was dismissed for not following the American Counseling Association's code of ethics ...

“The resolution of the lawsuit leaves the university’s policies, programs, and curricular requirements intact,” Kraft said. “The faculty retains its right to establish, in its learned judgment, the curriculum and program requirements for the counseling program at Eastern Michigan University” ...

http://www.freep.com/article/20121210/NEWS06/121210071/julea-ward-gay-students-eastern-michigan-emu?odyssey=nav|head

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:28 PM

24. While ACA Rule of Ethics 5C mentions "sexual orientation" but A.11.b is controlling

The rules of Ethics in question:

http://www.counseling.org/ethics/feedback/aca2005code.pdf

Rule 1.11,b states as follows:

A.11.b. Inability to Assist Clients If counselors determine an inability to be of professional assistance to clients, they avoid entering or continuing counseling relationships. Counselors are knowledgeable about culturally and clinically appropriate
referral resources and suggest these alternatives. If clients decline the suggested referrals, counselors should discontinue the relationship.

From the Article, the woman in question tried to be true to A.11.b but her supervisors told her she had to provide counseling anyway. There is NOTHING in the article that said the Woman did any HARM to the gay person who was referred to her, she just told her supervisor she was NOT able to help the gay person. In effect she told supervisor that in regards to that person, if she provided counseling and her own prejudices creep in, it may cause more harm then good. Thus under Rule A.11.b she bailed out and asked that the gay person be seen by someone else AND HER SUPERVISOR TOLD HER, SHE HAD TO DEAL WITH THE GAY PERSON, EVEN IF IN THE OPINION OF THE WOMAN SHE MAY CAUSE THE GAY PERSON MORE HARM THEN GOOD.

I hate to say this, that is a Professional at work, she recognized her restrictions and tired to make sure her prejudices did not harm others. Put yourself in her place, you have been told to help someone with counseling, and that person stands for everything you hate. Should you provide counseling, or should you bail? Remember your duty is to HELP the person NOT to confront him.

Every profession has this rule, you do NOT only have the right of refusal, it is a DUTY to do so, if by providing services you believe it will cause more harm then good to the client. Now, A.11 goes on that the counselors can NOT just leave a client, they should refer the client to someone else AND THAT WHAT THIS WOMAN TRIED TO DO. Thus the people who violated the Rules of Ethics were her Supervisors who told her to do what she saw as a problem for her to do. I suspect this was the attack her lawsuit was concentrating on, not the gay angle but that her supervisors were ORDERING her to do what she believe would cause the client harm.

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:32 PM

26. Oh, the irony: student expelled for expelling. nt

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Response to DeSwiss (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 03:11 AM

30. Geez...

Hard to imagine this kind of thing is still happening in this day and age...

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