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Fri Jan 27, 2012, 06:44 PM

Court says student’s faith may have led to expulsion

Adelle M. Banks | Jan 27, 2012

(RNS) A counseling student who declined to advise a gay client might have been expelled from her university because of her faith, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday (Jan. 27).

Citing her evangelical Christian religion, Julea Ward disagreed with professors at Eastern Michigan University who told her she was required to support the sexual orientation of her clients. When the graduate student was assigned a client who sought counseling on a same-sex relationship, she asked to have the client referred to another counselor.

Ward was then expelled from the school.

A lower court sided with the university, but Ward appealed, saying the school had violated her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

http://www.religionnews.com/culture/gender-and-sexuality/court-says-that-students-faith-may-have-led-to-expulsion

Here's the opinion.

www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/12a0024p-06.pdf

13 replies, 1225 views

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Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Court says student’s faith may have led to expulsion (Original post)
rug Jan 2012 OP
Critters2 Jan 2012 #1
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2012 #7
sulphurdunn Jan 2012 #2
niyad Jan 2012 #3
sulphurdunn Jan 2012 #8
rug Jan 2012 #5
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2012 #6
sulphurdunn Jan 2012 #9
ProgressiveProfessor Jan 2012 #10
tortoise1956 Jan 2012 #11
niyad Jan 2012 #4
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2012 #12
niyad Jan 2012 #13

Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 06:55 PM

1. The university is right.

She should put the best interest of a client ahead of her personal feelings....or get out of the profession.

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Response to Critters2 (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 08:20 PM

7. Have you read the opinion?

Had some interesting aspects to it.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 07:26 PM

2. The article fails to address

many questions. Among them: Is she a graduate or an undergraduate student? If she is a graduate student, was she a paid intern? Was she actually expelled from the university as an undergraduate for misconduct, or was she kicked out of a graduate school internship for not doing her job? If she was a graduate student (most likely) she deserved it and the court has its head up its ass.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 07:31 PM

3. the article stated she was a graduate student

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Response to niyad (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 08:22 PM

8. It certainly does.

I shouldn't have missed that.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 07:41 PM

5. The pertinent facts are recited in the opinion.

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Response to rug (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 08:15 PM

6. The opinion was an interesting read

Based on it I am surprised that the trial court honored the summary judgement motion.



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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 08:43 PM

9. It certainly was.

I should have read it before posting. Maybe it was a good decision after all. Perhaps it will prod graduate programs to implement non-referral policies in such programs and have their students sign-off on them before they begin their practicums.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 08:52 PM

10. It also showed inconsistency on the part of the Univ administration

Which for those of in academia is no surprise.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 02:39 AM

11. After reading the opinion, I think that the court decision was based on sound reasoning.

Some excerpts (from various sections of the decision):

1. Not only did Ward’s referral request respect these provisions, but another
provision of the code of ethics expressly permits values-based referrals. “If counselors
determine an inability to be of professional assistance to clients,” the code says that they
may refer them. R. 14-7 at 50. As a specific application of this principle, one
implicating secular and faith-based values, the code allows counselors to “choose to
work or not work with terminally ill clients who wish to explore their end-of-life
options.” R. 14-7 at 49. Consistent with these provisions, Ward’s expert, Dr. E. Warren
Throckmorton, the former chairman of the American Mental Health Counselors
Association’s ethics committee (and a former president of the organization), said that
Ward’s request to refer this client complied with the code.

2. Several of the textbooks used in Ward’s classes likewise say that sound
counseling practices permit values-based referrals. One textbook, Interviewing and
Change Strategies for Helpers, says that “some value judgments by both helper and
client may be inevitable . . . . If the client selects goals that severely conflict with the
helper’s values . . . the helper may decide to refer the client.” R. 79-5 at 6. Another
textbook, Becoming a Helper, says that “the assumption that counseling is value-neutral
is no longer tenable,” R. 79-3 at 8, and quotes a 2003 study finding that some forty
percent of professional counselors have referred clients due to values conflicts over
sexual practices.

3. No matter what the code of ethics means and no matter how it has been
interpreted, the university defendants respond that the school had a different policy for
practicum students—a “blanket rule” that they could not refer any clients. Reply Br. at
13. But a reasonable jury could find that this was an after-the-fact invention. The
university cannot point to any policy articulated in its course materials, the student
handbook or anything else forbidding practicum students from making referrals. The
student manual, to the contrary, includes a chapter dedicated to “Referrals,” R. 14-9 at
15, which says that students “may at times need to refer a client for additional counseling
services outside the Counseling Clinic” and encourages students “to first consult with
their Faculty Supervisor for assistance in making the referral.” Id.
At no point did any professor tell Ward about a no-referral policy—not during
the informal review, not during the formal review, not even in the letter dismissing her
from the program


With this in mind, it's hard to take the side of the university. They screwed up by the numbers, and they got caught.

Also, this was a reversal of a summary judgment by the district. This allows the case to go to court. It does NOT find in her favor.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 07:39 PM

4. so why wasn't this twit at oral roberts or liberty or whatever the hell those fundies run--that way,

she would NEVER run the risk of being assigned someone who didn't meet with HER faith requirements.

here is hoping that other student actually got the help being sought from a real counselor.

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Response to niyad (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 10:23 AM

12. The student did get counselling from someone else

and never even knew that there had been a dispute (at the time, anyway - they might have worked it out by now).

And that's what makes Ward's behaviour seem more reasonable to me - she never said anything to the student at all, but, as soon as the case came up, said "if homosexuality may come up, I want to refer it to someone else", and so they referred it to another counsellor before counselling started.

The university may well feel that it wants to turn out fully-rounded counsellors who can take all cases, but it does seem that it hadn't made that clear until this particular case, and that the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics allows for counsellors to refer clients to others - from the judgement:

Not only did Ward’s referral request respect these provisions, but another
provision of the code of ethics expressly permits values-based referrals. “If counselors
determine an inability to be of professional assistance to clients,” the code says that they
may refer them. R. 14-7 at 50. As a specific application of this principle, one
implicating secular and faith-based values, the code allows counselors to “choose to
work or not work with terminally ill clients who wish to explore their end-of-life
options.” R. 14-7 at 49


If Ward had waited until the middle of a counselling session before saying "I can't condone homosexuality - you have to see another counsellor", I could see that that could mean she had expressed discrimination against homosexuality. But getting it sorted before any sessions, without the client knowing, seems to have stayed within the guidelines she had been given, to me. So chucking her out of the program seems unjust, in my opinion.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #12)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 11:14 AM

13. glad she did that much, at least. and yet, considering how many cases we are hearing of doctors,

nurses, pharmacists, refusing treatments, drugs, etc., based on their faith, this sort of thing makes me a little cranky.

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