DETROIT, Mich. A graduate counseling student at Eastern Michigan University, who was expelled from the program for not affirming homosexual behavior as acceptable, has filed a federal lawsuit.
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom said the school dismissed Julea Ward from the program because she would not agree prior to a counseling session to affirm a client's homosexual behavior and would not retract her stance in subsequent disciplinary proceedings.
"Christian students shouldn't be penalized for holding to their beliefs," said ADF Senior Counsel David French. "When a public university has a prerequisite of affirming homosexual behavior as morally good in order to obtain a degree, the school is stepping over the legal line. Julea did the responsible thing and followed her supervising professor's advice to have the client referred to a counselor who did not have a conscience issue with the very matter to be discussed in counseling."
EMU requires students in its program to affirm or validate homosexual behavior within the context of a counseling relationship and prohibits students from advising clients that they can change their homosexual behavior.
EMU, the attorneys said, threatened Ward with expulsion if she did not agree to undergo a "remediation" so she could "see the error of her ways" and change her "belief system." When Ward did not agree with the conditions, she was given the options of either voluntarily leaving the program or asking for a formal faculty review hearing, at which she was denigrated for her Christian views. The committee dismissed her from the counseling program on March 12, and her appeal to the dean was denied.
"(Julea) acted as a professional counselor shouldwith great concern both for her beliefs and the client," ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco said. "The two are not incompatible, but EMU's policies are incompatible with the Constitution."