A couple months ago, Augusta State University graduate student Jennifer Keeton made the news for some homophobic viewpoints. Keeton, who was studying to become a mental health counselor, was told to take sensitivity training to guide her in adhering to professional counseling standards related to LGBT issues. Keeton argued that the school was discriminating against her based on her religion, because her views toward homosexuality were based on her religious beliefs.
Keeton went so far as to describe same-sex attraction as “identity confusion,” a view that would clearly make her a harmful counselor. The school had a responsibility to ensure she would treat LGBT patients with respect and dignity before graduating her from their program.
Keeton’s situation was interesting because it placed freedom of religion against the professional ethics of counseling. While Keeton is certainly free to hold whatever religious values she chooses, she isn’t entitled to receive a degree from Augusta State University in counseling when her viewpoints would prevent her from being worthy of that degree. Keeton lost her lawsuit against the school in federal court this year.
Regardless, Keeton has now gathered support for her cause — from a group that’s probably even more anti-gay than she is. The Ku Klux Klan is planning a rally at Augusta State University in support of Keeton. The KKK has met with school officials and is planning their protest for October 23.
Somehow, it’s unsurprising that Keeton is getting support from a hate group like the Ku Klux Klan. Whether or not Keeton’s beliefs are as extreme as the KKK, they definitely have some things in common. Both view homosexuality as a disorder, and both view advancements in equal rights with disdain and outright hostility.
Again, both Keeton and the KKK have the freedom to hold their beliefs, to be against homosexuality, and to protest as they please. But luckily, a pointless protest by the KKK won’t negate the fact that the law sided with Augusta State University — homophobes can’t expect a free pass when their beliefs get in the way of professional ethics.
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