In the late 1960’s, before I met her, one of my lesbian lovers — who looked almost exactly like the character of Shane in “The ‘L’ Word,” played by Katherine Moennig — was expelled from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan, for being a lesbian. (This relationship was while I was at the University of Michigan, 11 years before I met Margaret.)
Now the Creative Minority Report is hyperventilating and complaining that EMU has committed another injustice, this time against a student who was in a graduate program training to become a counselor (or therapist). The Ann Arbor News story describes the case as follows:
The Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom says student Julea Ward was dismissed from her graduate program in March after refusing to affirm a client’s homosexual behavior prior to a counseling session, according to a press release from the group.
David French, ADF senior counsel, said the school initiated a disciplinary process against Ward despite the fact that she followed her supervising professor’s advice and referred the client to a counselor who did not have a conscience issue with homosexuality.
Ward then allegedly was informed that the only way to stay in her program would be to undergo a remediation process to change her beliefs as they relate to counseling about homosexual relationships, the Defense Fund Center said. When she refused, she was given a formal review hearing, after which she was dismissed from the program. The dismissal was upheld March 26 by the dean of EMU’s College of Education, the press release said.
The American Psychiatric Association decided in 1973 to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders and the American Psychological Association followed suit in 1975 sayng that, “”Homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities” (Conger, 1975, p. 633).” The American Psychological Association’s guidelines on homosexuality are here.
That means Ward’s position of the supremacy of her conscience over the guidelines of the counseling professions is comparable to a medical student asserting her right to refute the existence of bacteria and treat bacterial infections only with prayer. In other words, she is practicing her religion while violating the guidelines of her profession. She already is free to practice her religion, but she is not free to cloak her religion in the mantle of authority of the counseling profession. The fact that she does not understand why THAT is wrong is what should shock the conscience.
And, no, Ward’s offer to refer gay and lesbian clients to other counselors is not acceptable because this is what the vulnerable gay or lesbian client hears, “I think you are immoral and should burn in hell, but I have a colleague who also is evil and has no standards, so I am referring you.”
If that client was YOUR child, family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor teetering on the brink of suicide, is THAT the message you think they should hear?
Because suicide is what the EMU big meanies are trying to prevent.
Speaking of which, if you are very, very religious, AND especially if you also are extremely strict, IF your child is gay or lesbian, the ONLY clue you may ever get about that is the very neutral-sounding question, “What do you think about homosexuality?” Your child’s decision on whether or not to commit suicide is riding on your answer. If you answer harshly … well, even if your child doesn’t commit suicide, that’s the moment where emotionally and spiritually they will leave you.
What your child is usually really asking you is, “Will you still love me if I tell you I’m gay?”
Now watch “Dead Poets Society” enough times to figure out what making someone feel trapped by harshness and strictness and cut off from their autonomy by another person’s values can do (and that character wasn’t even gay). Here is the scene:
And really, Stacy and Smitty — I saw the headline from the Creative Minority Report at The Other McCain — this is NOT a conscience issue, it is a professional standards issue and as a professional standards issue it truly IS a matter of life-and-death. If Ward wants to denounce homosexuality AND be a counselor, certainly she can find a program where she can become a minister and be within the guidelines of her profession to do both.
It is beyond reprehensible that social conservatives are positioning their desire to enforce their religions on other people as a matter of conscience and are trying to pass off this violation of their victims’ autonomy as something they are entitled to do — AND that THEY are the victims when their violations are thwarted. NO, that is NOT the way it works — imposing your religion and conscience on someone else, especially without their permission or knowledge, breaks their connection with their dharma and is about the most evil thing you can do.
(Note: Individual “dharma” is the most evolutionary behavior and profession for each individual, but everyone is different and can only progress from where they are so each person’s dharma is different. If they scorn their own situation and try to be someone else, they break their connection with their own dharma and fall into confusion. Someone who forces another person to be someone they aren’t also breaks that person’s connection with their dharma and pushes them into confusion on their evolutionary path.)