Whose rights are more important?

Krista - posted on 06/20/2012 ( 47 moms have responded )

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From addictinginfo.org:

"In 2009, a student at Eastern Michigan University named Julea Ward was expelled from her graduate studies program. She was removed from the program because she refused to counsel a suicidal gay student. The reason, if you haven’t already guessed, is because she is a ‘Christian.’ To be clear:

Julea Ward, while seeking certification from a state university, refused to apply her training to a fellow student (a requirement for certification), even though his life was at stake.

Or:

Julea Ward turned away a person crying out for help, because she is an adherent to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Either way you look at it, it seems like a huge failing. And we would all agree that something needed to be done to prevent this kind of potential tragedy from ever happening again. The Michigan House of Representatives have addressed the problem…By passing a bill making it illegal to:

“discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief.”


Yes, that’s right. They went pro-intolerance. It’s called the “Julea Ward freedom of conscience act‘,” and if it passes, it sets some very interesting precedences:

It would create an anti-discrimination law that permits discrimination. More troubling is that it awards priority to the protection an ‘idea’ over the protection of the needs of an ‘individual.’
It would prevent learning institutions from disqualifying students from certification when the student holds beliefs that make them unwilling or unable to satisfactorily complete their training. Obviously it also allows them to ply a trade they are unwilling or unable to hold. A critical trade, where lives hang in the balance."



http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/06/19/...


What think you of this?

I admit I'm coming at this from a bias. I don't agree with ANY sort of conscience clauses. This, however, seems to go even farther. Are some religious people now trying to say that they should have the right to not even have to DEAL WITH people who offend their beliefs?

And on a practical basis, what kind of counselor can you really be if you refuse to deal with people who engage in behaviours that you don't like?

And frankly, I question whether someone like this should even BE a counselor (unless they advertise themselves specifically as a Christian counselor). Will their analysis and advice be for the good of the patient, or will they be utterly incapable of objectivity?

Thoughts?

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Johnny - posted on 06/21/2012

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"discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief.”

My main issue with this is that it separates religious belief from all other beliefs while not even bothering to define religious belief. That is an incredibly dangerous precedent.

Firstly, I'm not sure why those who hold relgious beliefs should have those beliefs placed on a pedestal above beliefs that may stem from personal opinion or other sources. I hold beliefs that are generally based on data and evidence (being a scientifically minded skeptic) and I find it problematic that my beliefs would be less important because they are not religious. And would I just have to "say" my beliefs are part of a religion to get them recognized, since there is no definition of what "religious belief" is in this context. I could just make up some bullshit story. It's a ridiculous concept.

Secondly, not defining what a religious belief is leaves the entire clause totally open to abuse. A member of the klu-klux-klan could refuse to serve non-whites and claim that as a sincerely held religious belief. Jews could refuse to help Muslims. Fundamentalist Muslim men could refuse to help women. This clause basically cuts into the entire fabric of counseling, social work, psychology and all the helping professions that are based in secular thinking. Judging from this thread, it doesn't seem that most of those who hold sincere religious beliefs even support such an idea.

To me, it just seems like a further attempt in the American culture to remove all secular areas of thinking and practice and replace them with religion. It is a bit by bit attempt to undermine the separation of church and state with people not even being able to see what is happened until it is too late.

Dove - posted on 06/20/2012

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If she can't put her personal beliefs on homosexuality aside enough to help a suicidal patient... she doesn't need to be in that line of work. I do understand that some counselors and clients are not a good fit and if that ended up being the case she could refer the patient to someone else, but in an emergency situation... you do what you can to help FIRST and when the situation is stabilized.. THAT is when you do the referral.

Johnny - posted on 06/22/2012

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Mary, I completely agree that care providers and professionals in any setting should have the right to withdraw and refer in non-emergency situations. I think it would actually be dangerous to insist that everyone service anyone, because there are some biases that are just going to get in the way. While I might be capable of practicing emergency suicide prevention counseling to anyone, I could not see myself entering into a long-term family counseling situation with a family which practiced a strict patriarchal structure. My bias against such a lifestyle would likely mean that I would struggle to provide useful counseling, and the family would not get the help it required. I would be looking to change what *I* saw as a bad lifestyle choice, even if they weren't looking to change that. My responsibility would be to find them a counselor who was well equipped to support their lifestyle choices and work with them in those parameters.

Frankly, despite my strong support for gay rights and having many gay male friends, I would not even feel particularly well equipped to counsel gay men struggling with their identities. It's not an area which I can empathize in particularly well, and I'm not sure I would do them much good. I can listen, and "sympathize", but successful counseling requires a better understanding of a situation. My training focused on family counseling, and while I could easily work with same sex families who were having issues, gay male identity issues would fall outside my skill area.

My issue isn't so much with Ms. Ward, although I'm not convinced she is particularly well-suited to practice in a secular environment for some of the reasons Krista listed. If you are so strong in your beliefs that you are unable to support one kind of sinner, what about all the others? A bit of a pickle there.

My issue is mainly with this legislation. As it is written, it undermines the need for care providers to act professionally regardless of personal feelings. The way you describe how you would manage the women who are fighting to ban pitbulls is the very definition of "professional behavior". Control any emergency situation and responsibly refer and transfer. Looking at the legislation, it gives ANYONE for ANY REASON (as long as they call it a religious belief) the right to refuse service even in an emergency situation and promises no repercussions for doing so.

Most jurisdictions, as far as I know, do not place legal treatment requirements upon care providers except for in emergency situations. As a social woker in my province, I was not only legally permitted, but obligated to ensure that my client received proper and best treatment. There is no stipulation that I must be that provider, but only that I must ensure that there is a provider. If I would not be the provider of the best care, it was contigent on me to refer appropriately. This law appears to remove that level of responsibility from the professional in cases of religious objection.

Jenny - posted on 06/22/2012

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I can't wait till non-believers are the majority and reason reigns. I'm sick to death of belief systems having negative effects on the way people are treated in society. Screw Julea Ward's "right" to be a bigot.

[deleted account]

So does this mean, I can hang up on Christians now at work since their core beliefs are opposite my morality? Or does it only work the other way?

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West - posted on 08/21/2012

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Wow I can't believe she calls herself a Christian. We are suppose to be here for anyone regardless of their belief. I do understand the they are saying you can't force a person to deal with someone but in a social environment it shouldn't be allowed. It may be cause I'm pregnant and emotional but I wish I could find that kid and show him love. I hate when these people give Christians a bad name

Tracy - posted on 08/19/2012

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This is horrible legislation and she is seeking a degree to help people - really??? So... If someone came to her worried that they have sexual feelings towards a child and they DON'T want to act on it - they want to get help before something happens... Well, this chick would be against helping him, right? But the children he later hurts would have no recourse against the people who refused to help him PREVENT his behaviors?? Where does this line stop? Christians don't believe in killing either.... Mental Health counselors shouldn't be held responsible for turning away someone threatening to kill someone either... right? And WHICH religious beliefs can be upheld under this law? Are you kidding me??

Elizabeth - posted on 07/10/2012

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Honestly, if this was this student's roadblock, then she has chosen the wrong profession for herself IMO.

Erin - posted on 07/06/2012

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I think that she has the right to her beliefs but I find it wrong to be a counselor and decide only certain people have the right to your council it's clear cut reverse religious discrimination which is not Constitutional. She should have been punished and I'm a Christian. Jesus Christ would have helped this man I believe, so I find her refusal to be outrageous. It's life or death how dare a person dedicate themselves to aiding people and then shun them for not being what they percieve to be perfect.

Lacye - posted on 07/03/2012

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I'm a little late to this whole thing but here we go anyways.

As a Christian, she should have helped the poor guy anyways. Helping each other is one of the main things that God teaches us in life. She should also stop using the Christian religion as a front to her homophobia. She doesn't like gays, not God. This is one of the things that drives me crazy is stupid people trying to hide behind God and totally misinterpreting His word.

Claire - posted on 07/02/2012

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What kind of god doesn't approve of gays? Just like straight people, i believe they have been around since the beginning of time. History has shown it... God gave us the right to choose our paths, so why would God discriminate against homosexuals?????? DOESNT MAKE SENSE

Amanda - posted on 06/24/2012

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The more I have thought about this bill passed in MI, the more disturbed I became. With more research into this, I applaud the university for kicking her out of the counseling program.

http://www.annarbor.com/news/student-boo...

{Quote from linked article}The court also said Ward tried to "respect the school’s affirmation directives in working with clients. "That is why she asked to refer gay and lesbian clients (and some heterosexual clients) if the conversation required her to affirm their sexual practices. What more could the rule require? Surely ... the ban on discrimination against clients based on their religion ... does not require a Muslim counselor to tell a Jewish client that his religious beliefs are correct if the conversation takes a turn in that direction ... . Tolerance is a two-way street. Otherwise, the rule mandates orthodoxy, not anti-discrimination." - end quote

Apparently miss Julea is very picky about who she chooses to help. My uneducated guess is that those clients she would accept may not recieve effective counseling from Julea beacuse her bias is so deep and bigoted that the advice she may give to her client may not be sound. ex. what if a man comes to her confused about the direction his marriage should go because while he loves his wife, while she was suffering post-partum depression cheated on him. I would assume that Julea would encourage him to leave INSTEAD of doing what he felt is right for him and his family. I hope this lady never ever enters the counseling profession.

Johnny - posted on 06/24/2012

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Yes, Janice, the law applies only to students. In an area of practice such as counseling, students are also dealing with clients who have sensitive issues and require even students to conduct themselves professionally. It's a terrible precedent to allow even counseling students to cross these boundaries. Who cares if you're paying or not? You are being trusted with people in a vulnerable situation and just being a student is not an excuse to avoid the professional responsibilities. This was made abundantly clear on my first day of social work school and my first class of my counseling diploma program.

Amanda - posted on 06/24/2012

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I read another article abuot this situation and it was stated that Julie Ward did not follow the ethical guidelines of her chosen profession. Students in the program are expected to adhere to these guidlelines and if they do not, the repercussion is expulsion from the program. While Mary pointed out that she did seek the advice of her advisor, Mary did not expand on what Julie's decision actually was.



While I am not in the counseling profession, nor would it ever be a career I would choose, I find it extremely scary that a legislature would enact a law that would allow graduate students to be ill prepared for their line of work.



As with any job, you will run into people you dislike based on your belief systems. If I stopped working with a collegue because I know he is jerk in his personal life, I would rightly be fired.



I can say that while I am no longer a complete believer of the christian faith (agnostic would be an accurate description) at one point my hubby and i sought marital counseling and our counselor was Hindu. While our belief systems were quiet different, this lady was flipping AWESOME. While our conflicts centered directly on forces outside our control ~ I have horrible in laws ~ and looking back we did not make the best choices in order to protect our children from them, we got NO BLAME from her ~ that doesn't mean that there was not a possiblity in her head she was thinkgs, seriously WTF is wrong with these people. She was able to empathize with HOW we made our decisions and WHY. She essentially gave us permission to go back on the 'blood is thicker than water' mindset and gave us the confidence to move forward with out these creeps. Had she looked at our chart and said, heck no i won't help them because they are not Hindu, we would have lost out on an excellent counselor. She would have lost out as she says, her confidence of knowing that she was able to help others. BTW - we did try a Christian counselor and did not like being told that my hubby had to respect and love his mother. She was our fourth counselor and sometimes you have to change counselors to find one that fits your personality.



After re-reading this, it occured to me that if my excellent counselor had rejected me on the fact that our relgiions differed, she probably would not have been a good fit for me. However, if when she was going to school and was taught that these types of exclusions are "OK" under a conscientus observer clause, than she may have followed that path herself. And by doing so, limiting her satisfaction within her career and denying her expertise to others that she cuold help.

Janice - posted on 06/24/2012

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"As it is written, it undermines the need for care providers to act professionally regardless of personal feelings."



Johnny I thought this law only applied to students?



I think acting professionally and separating personal beliefs from work is a necessity, but a student is paying the college so it is a different situation.



Before I began my last semester which was student teaching, I had to fill out a form and I could request to not be placed in religious school. I specifically said that I did not want to be placed at a catholic school because I knew that I would be required to teach religion and I was not comfortable doing so. I would never accept a job at a school in which I was required to teach religion. Now I would have done it if I had too but I'm really glad I didnt need to in order to get my degree. Now if there are few jobs available and I choose to not work in a parochial school and I struggle to live than that's the price I pay for my choice. If this lady gets her degree and can't get licensed or find a job because of her bigotry thats her own fault.



Now if this law has any bearing on actual professionals doing their job then that is different.



ETA: also didn't the woman act professionally when she sought her professor's advice before hand?

Charlie - posted on 06/23/2012

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Sorry but religious beliefs are of no more importance than your political beliefs or dietry choices as a person morally against the consumption of meat.

Your beliefs do NOT give you extra freedoms to behave in a way that affects the lives of others in a negative way ESPECIALLY if your job is to provide care for others.

The “Julea Ward freedom of conscience act‘ ? are you kidding me?

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 06/22/2012

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Cathy S. Exactly! From what I learned in Church and in school (Yay Catholic School!) Jesus would have helped someone reguardless of their sexual orientation or other beliefs. As someone with Christian friends and family members I fail to see exactly how it's Christian to refuse to aide someone.

Seriously if you follow the teachings and ask yourself 'what would Jesus do' you should know by now that Jesus would put himself in the other person's shoes, swallow his pride and help the person reguardless of the fact that he didn't agree with that person.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 06/22/2012

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No, I doubt they are but it is becoming more and more difficult for non-believers to not group believers in a negative light. Look at all the bills US politicians have been trying to pass, lately. Church and State, do not seem very separate in my eyes, as they are suppose to be.

Lakota - posted on 06/22/2012

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I certainly hope that all believers aren't grouped in the catagory of bigots or anything else negative nonbelievers might come up with just because of this woman. She does not represent me or any other believer I know.

Krista - posted on 06/22/2012

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I guess with the Julea Ward situation, I am just quite skeptical. Would she be equally as likely to refer a patient who is living out of wedlock with a boyfriend and their child, and who has no plans to change her marital status?

Heck, the 10 commandments say that thou shalt have no other gods. Would she be as likely to refer away a non-Christian, due to his unforgivable sin of disbelief?

I would imagine that MOST counselors, at some point or another, have dealt with people they loathe (as Johnny has described downthread). That's just part of the job.

Otherwise, what's next? A Quaker defense lawyer who refuses to defend anybody accused of a violent crime?

It just seems that lately, we're seeing a trend where in the U.S., peoples' religious beliefs are considered to be more important than pretty much anything else at all. And I guess I just cannot help but wonder where all of this is leading.

Mary - posted on 06/22/2012

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Krista, I don't know exactly where the line should be drawn, but I do think that "care providers" should have some rights with regards to withdrawing themselves from a non-emergent situation that would be overwhelmingly offensive or conflicting for them. I do not restrict this to religious beliefs.

For example, many of you know how passionately I feel about Breed Specific Legislation, particularly as it relates to my beloved pit bulls. This has been a huge deal in my state lately due to an Appellate Court ruling that "pit bull type" dogs are "inherently dangerous". I have been very involved in the movement to have this ruling overturned by the state legislature. Two organizations - PETA and Dogsbite.org, are not only supportive of BSL, but have had representatives testify at a recent task force hearing aimed at reviewing this issue. I cannot express how intensely I despise these individuals, and the hatred and misinformation they spew.

If either one of these women showed up in labor in my hospital, I would find it exceedingly difficult to care for them. In an emergent situation, I would most certainly do it to the best of my ability. I would "do my job", but I doubt I would be as giving of myself on a personal level as I normally am with all other patients. If at all feasible, I would ask to switch patients with another nurse who did not share the strength of my feelings on this issue. IMO, that would be in the best interests of the patient. To be very clear - it's not that I would refuse her care, nor would I provide a lesser quality of physical care or attention. It's just that I know that I would not be able to connect with her on the same emotional level that I usually do with others. Despite my dislike for these women, I do believe that they deserve care from someone who does not have a prior issue with them based on differing ideologies. To me, transferring their care to another colleague, if at all possible, is the ethically right thing to do.

TBH, I think that is what Julea Ward was trying to do. Unlike what has been suggested, she did not flat-out refuse to counsel a suicidal patient based solely on his homosexuality. She was not refusing him immediate or emergent intervention. As I pointed out earlier, this was a situation where the patient in question was specifically requesting counseling about a same-sex relationship. Ward identified that this could be ethically problematic for her before ever meeting with him, and sought guidance from her faculty supervisor about how to best handle the situation - both for herself and for the patient. It really was not quite the simple "I refuse to help this person just because he gay" issue that some are trying to portray. From the more unbiased articles I have read, I am left with the impression that she was merely recognizing and admitting her own limitations and abilities to best help someone navigate issues specifically related to a same-sex relationship.

We would all like to believe that all care givers can be totally objective and keep any personal beliefs or biases out of the workplace. However, I'm not sure that this is a very realistic or practical expectation. Ethical and moral dilemmas do occur on a daily basis in these professions related to a variety of issues. While I don't think that the "religious" have any more rights than I to specific protections to avoid these conflicts, I do think that care providers have a moral and ethical obligation to admit their limitations, and when possible, find another better suited to provide the care needed without reservation or bias. I don't advocate carte blanche refusal for providers (and not at all in emergent, life-threatening scenarios), but I also don't want a system in place that discourages honesty and the ability to refer through fear of reprisals.

Stifler's - posted on 06/21/2012

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I agree, you shouldn't be a counselor if you don't counsel certain people. You're a counselor! Chances are a majority of people are going to be depressed maybe suicidal and dealing with all kinds of issues or done all kinds of things. What if the person was a "Christian" and was also gay and struggling with it.

Krista - posted on 06/21/2012

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I agree with Johnny. Why is it that religious beliefs are considered so inviolable and sacrosanct, with nowhere near as much consideration given to non-religious (yet perhaps as firmly held) beliefs? And where do we draw the line? Will a vegan be allowed to refuse to counsel a chicken farmer who is having a work problem? Will someone concerned with overpopulation be allowed to refuse to counsel a woman struggling to conceive her 4th child?

Where does it stop, in this quest to make sure that nobody has to do anything that conflicts with their morals?

Tracie - posted on 06/21/2012

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If she cannot take her own personal issues out of the counseling session (be they religious, nutritional, spiritual, etc.) then she is not objective enough to be a counselor. That's like saying you want to be a doctor but can't stand the sight of blood. If your "conscience" keeps from you from being able to deal with the needs of your patients, you are not fit for the job.

Beth - posted on 06/21/2012

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Even if she were a specifically Christian counselor, the Bible does say we can love the sinner without tolerating the sin. She can still offer help and support without having to become a supporter of gay rights if she doesn't want to. There's having your beliefs, and then there's unfairly imposing them on other people. If she wants to go into this line of work, she's going to run across a myriad of issues she doesn't agree with: premarital sex, extra-marital sex, drug and alcohol abuse, where does she draw the line. Some churches even oppose suicide itself, so will she refuse to treat any suicidal patient? She didn't refuse because she so pious, please. This is pure, black hate.

Janice - posted on 06/21/2012

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Meme I think you are correct, however I think its possible that some young people could just think 'Oh, I really loving helping people, I should go into counseling" with out really thinking about the fact that their may be times when counseling a particular person is difficult. Some young people lead very sheltered lives.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 06/21/2012

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Which is why you should look into every aspect of a career choice before electing to sign up and put forth a mass amount of monies.



If I were religious and searching for my career path, I would most definitely be checking into what each career, I had in mind, consisted of. When it comes to counselling, I don't have to have much knowledge to know, that I would be working with many clients, of which some would not hold the same beliefs as myself. If I was at all concerned with this, I would be digging further, to get all pertinent information, in order to educate myself on how the ball rolls, in accordance to my beliefs and clients that do not view them in the same light.

Janice - posted on 06/21/2012

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Thank you for the clarification Mary.

In general I believe our country was founded on the principle of separation between church and state. Therefore at first look laws like this seem completely wrong to me. But then when I reread "discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief.”
I agree that all counselors and social workers and the like should be focused on helping people despite their religious beliefs, but she was a student and based on Mary's info didnt completely walk away. I think that students such as this woman need to be advised that their choice of career will require that work with people with all different views and that if they are unwilling to help all people than they may not be able to be actually licensed.

This woman was not in the position of being the only one to be able to help. She did seek the advice of her professor on the matter. The professor could have plainly stated that in order to be licensed you must agree to help all people. Then if the woman chose to not help it would be on her that she couldn't get licensed not the school for dismissing her.

Johnny mentioned their were courses at her college that were done in the beginning to weed out those who were not fit for the profession. I wonder if this is the norm in all colleges, I would bet not. If you spend thousands of dollars on your degree and then during your very last course you are dismissed from the program you would be pissed, at least I would.

Mary - posted on 06/21/2012

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This was really bugging me. I just couldn't understand how anyone, much less an entire legislative body, could condone turning away a suicidal person seeking crisis intervention. It turns out that this is not exactly what happened.

From the NY Times article related to Julea Ward's lawsuit against EMU for expulsion from their program:

"According to the Sixth Circuit decision, written by Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, Ms. Ward counseled her first two clients without incident. But when she “reviewed the file of the third client, she noticed he sought counseling about a same-sex relationship.” Ms. Ward asked her faculty supervisor, Yvonne Callaway, “(1) whether she should meet with the client and refer him only if it became necessary — only if the counseling session required Ward to affirm the client’s same-sex relationship — or (2) whether the school should reassign the client from the outset.”

So, in the interest of clarification, Julea Ward didn't directly turn away a gay student in need of immediate suicide/crisis intervention. She sought guidance from her adviser prior to ever meeting this student on how to best navigate this situation. I'm not in any way saying that I agree with her mindset on this, but I really dislike when facts are dramatized or misrepresented in order to support a particular "side" to the argument.

Michele - posted on 06/20/2012

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"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." If Jesus can save a woman from being stoned for adultery, then a Christ follower should try to help save a person from suicide. Would she have been happier if he succeeded in suicide, really ?!?

Jasmine - posted on 06/20/2012

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I studied psychology and social work and I think her actions are unethical. What makes the difference is that this client was suicidal and it seems very unchristian to turn away someone in such a dire need. Maybe it would be different if this student was just seeking counseling for relationship issues, but to refuse someone who is suicidal is wrong. If he had taken his own life, where would that have left her?

Johnny - posted on 06/20/2012

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First off, if my job was suicide prevention counselling, it would not be my role to help someone see that what a specific set of their actions was wrong. My role would be to help them find their own reasons to continue living and see their own value.

The goal of counseling is not generally to help people gain a moral standpoint, at least not in secular counseling. You might be encouraging them to take another look at their actions, through perhaps a different lens, in which they might change their viewpoint on the correctness of their behavior. However, that really does not often apply in crisis prevention work.

As well, this woman is a graduate student. If she does not have the skills and maturity to handle her own biases, she really shouldn't be in the program. The counseling diploma program I was in had students of all experiences, from those who had degrees in things like social work, psychology etc like myself to those who had zero post-secondary experience and were going to be doing more "experience based" work with people who had suffered similar life traumas themselves. We all had to take two basic courses in which we demonstrated the ability to put aside our own biases in order to continue in the program. If she was in a post-graduate program at a university, she should have been better vetted.

I will say though, outside of crisis prevention work, there are plenty of times when there isn't anything wrong with telling people to put on their big girl panties and deal, lol. Perhaps not exactly in those words, but part of one's job can be to help people to figure that out for themselves.

Krista - posted on 06/20/2012

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She wasn't being asked to change who he was, just to help him live another day. The fact that who he was made her not want to do that is despicable.

That's my take on it too -- you just expressed it much more succinctly. She wasn't even being asked to ACCEPT who he was, which is what gets me.

And how much money do you want to bet that she describes herself as "pro-life"?

Deborah - posted on 06/20/2012

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Krista... good point on the lying and stealilng thing... I take it back :)

Johnny - remember that she is/was a student, still learning her profession. I would expect a seasoned professional to put aside their deeply held beliefs and councel anyone in need. I would not expect a student still in school training to be able to do it (however I might expect it prior to graduation). And on your point about those who commit crimes justifying their actions - they may not feel that their actions were wrong, but they would agree that "people should not steal" - and your job would be to help them see that they fit the category just like anyone else. With sexuality, there isn't the same common ground. You are not moving towards the same value of 'this is wrong' or 'this is right'.

All that said - you are a professional and are more aware of the standards for your industry. There is a really REALLY good reason I'm not in counceling as I'd tell waaaay to many people to 'put on their big girl panties and deal'... and I'm sure there are professional standards this would go against... :)

Johnny - posted on 06/20/2012

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People who commit crimes justify their actions to themselves all the time. A reasonable percentage of the criminals I was dealing with in my line of work honestly believed that they had not done anything wrong. If you are seeking to counsel someone to stop them from wanting to kill themselves, it doesn't really matter if YOU think they are doing the right thing or the wrong thing. You just have to value them as an individual and as a human being. It doesn't matter whether your beliefs and morals are based in religious dogma or your own opinion. It seems clear to me that she was unable to place value on this man as a human being. She wasn't being asked to change who he was, just to help him live another day. The fact that who he was made her not want to do that is despicable.

I personally find her morals and her views to be deeply wrong and in need of change, but if she was presented to me as suicidal, I would still make every attempt to convince her otherwise. Changing her beliefs is not a necessary part of that.

Krista - posted on 06/20/2012

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The biggest difference I see is that no one who steals thinks it's right or natural or morally acceptable.

Gotta disagree with you there, Deborah. I mean, you HAVE met politicians before, right? ;)

Deborah - posted on 06/20/2012

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I don't like any form of discrimination so don't read this as condoning her actions but consider this. The councelor, as a self proclaimed christian holds/held tightly the belief that his actions were very wrong - something to be changed or corrected. He, as a self proclaimed gay man, holds tightly to the belief that his actions are natural and acceptable. Her advice would be a bad fit for his problem. She would make a piss-poor councelor if she could not move past this as she could not deal with his issues for dealing with her own. I see where some have said how is this different that other moral issues like lying or stealing. The biggest difference I see is that no one who steals thinks it's right or natural or morally acceptable. A councelor could council a change of behaviour. But with sexuality it's not so simple. They are not working with the same basics and any help she provided would be off.

That said - there are alot of councelors out there. Many self proclaim to be "Christian Councelors" or "Jewish Councelors" or whatever niche they may have. They advise comes from that point of view. While I didn't follow the link mentioned, this situation does not clarify if she was training to be a specialty niche councelor or not. I don't think it would be right for her to NOT advertise herself as such if she's going to qualify the people she councels.

Last thought... if the guy was suicidal - he sure didn't need her trying to 'save' him!! Especially if she didn't feel up to the challenge!! But her trianing should have had her councel a person who was happily gay and not desiring a change in order to streach her ability to empethize and COUNCEL all people in need...

Krista - posted on 06/20/2012

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No kidding. A suicidal gay man is turned down for counseling. I'm sure that made him feel just GREAT.

[deleted account]

i think it's ridiculous, just like not having to dispense the morning after pill because it goes against your religious beliefs. a person's life is more important than religious beliefs. if you are going to go into a helping profession such as medecine or couselling you shoudl be available to help everyone, not just those whose religious/moral persuasions agree with your own. if you are so biased against certain groups that you are unable to help then you should pick a different job.

Johnny - posted on 06/20/2012

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Absolutely Dove. One of the reasons it is so important to recognize and deal with your biases is that sometimes they may lead to a negative counselor-client relationship. Dealing with that properly requires appropriate referral. That isn't just about the counselor, it's about the client getting the service and support that will fit them best. We had an entire course in our counseling programs on putting together appropriate referals to ensure that the services would be followed through on, exceedingly important for people who are suicidal in particular. I wonder what sort of damage this "counselor's" action caused the client?

Johnny - posted on 06/20/2012

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As a person with a degree in Social Work and a diploma in Counseling, I find this exceedingly concerning and potentially damaging to the profession. In fact, it would render these professions as no longer truly valid "professions" in the secular world. These degrees are not religious nor related to particular theologies, and to allow those issue to take precedence over traditional professional responsibilities would place them in that purview. Thus, I would not consider those practicing in places where such clauses are in place to really be legitimate professionals.

I believe that the US is similar to Canada in that Social Workers are held to a specific professional standard and set of responsibilities. This law would subvert those standards entirely.

It does not matter what your beliefs are, you WILL meet people in these careers that are doing things, who believe things or who take actions that you may find wrong or immoral or "sinful". It is the nature of the job. That is why the professional standards of practice exist. To provide guidelines for dealing with this sort of situation. Its easy to be supportive and caring when you "feel" for the person you are working with. It's another matter when you are faced with someone whose actions or behaviors you may find reprehensible. Those guidelines are designed to help you deal with your bias in those situations.

I used to work with a client population where it was frequent to be dealing with people who were recently out of jail for committing crimes, in the process of going through the justice system for a crime, or who were avoiding the cops. My role had nothing to do with their run-ins with the law, but finding adequate housing, food, clothing and access to hygiene. On a daily basis I worked to help people who I believed should have been in jail for their crimes (or rotting somewhere in a pit in some cases) without allowing my views of their actions get in the way. That is the nature of the career. My task was find services and assistance for their basic needs and help them gain access. I had to listen and absorb their constant bullshit and allow it to roll off my back because it was of no consequence to my goal of ensuring that their basic human rights (food, shelter, clothes, access to hygiene and medicine, and access to legal services) were provided. My feelings about them were inconsequential and it would have been highly unprofessional (and worth being fired over) if I had refused service or passed judgment publicly.

This woman and those who wish to follow her lead should NOT be employed in these professions under any circumstances if they can not meet basic standards. It does not matter from where the bias stems, it is your responsibility to recognize it, deal with it on your own, and get the job done. She clearly failed at this and should not be in the career. If her religious bias is dominating her life, then she should seek a religious counseling career where that will be a benefit rather than a detriment.

Not to mention, she clearly lacks the ability to empathize with others which is the basic tenet of counseling, she failed before she even got started.

Lady Heather - posted on 06/20/2012

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Well I'm glad she wouldn't counsel this person because lord knows what she would have said to him. Seems an odd choice of career for someone who doesn't want to help people.

Jenni - posted on 06/20/2012

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This bill is so absurd that even among our Christian posters they unanimously believe it's taking it too far and is not very "Christian-like".



Why is there such a spot light on homosexuality as a sin? (Well, I know the answer, it's the current political climate in the USA). But what I mean is; why wouldn't this exempt Christians (or persons of other faiths) from treating anyone who is committing any sin in their Bible. I have read no where in the Bible that states homosexuality is the most unforgivable sin. So why not refuse counseling to students who are kleptomaniacs (stealing after all is one of he big 10) or an atheist student who willfully breaks at least 3 of the ten commandments? A student that is not a virgin and not married? If you're Christian and are going to discriminate against an individual who is breaking one of the laws of your holy book, why not refuse counseling to *everyone* considering according to the Bible we are all constantly sinning?



You see, these are the murky waters we tread into when we do not keep church and state separate. Religious laws should never override secular laws against discrimination. I was pretty sure our past taught us that politics and religion do not make for good bed fellows and are not beneficial for anyone. Secular laws are in place to protect everyone regardless of religion, personal beliefs, race, and sexual preference. If the religious receive preferential treatment then why shouldn't my (as an atheist) personal beliefs receive the same treatment. Perhaps I sincerely believe religion is harmful (that's not necessarily true but for example) so as a councilor should I have the right to refuse counseling to Christians and others who adhere to a religion? What exactly makes the religious' personal beliefs more important than my own?



This is quite the very definition of a slippery slope.

America3437 - posted on 06/20/2012

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Forgive me as I didn't read the replies just the OP but my opinion is that this is obsurd and this women is not a christian by any means of the word! The Bible tells us to love one another as Christ would and I am pretty sure Christ would have helped this lost soul! Shame on her!

Lakota - posted on 06/20/2012

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My first thought is that this woman should have helped the gay student because she is Christian. As a Christian, I was shocked to read that she refused to help.

But, she has that right not to because of her beliefs. There are many other people from religions other than Christianity that refused to do things, or do things all in the name of their religion. Why should it be any different for Christians?

But, again, I think she should have helped this student because she is supposed to be a counselor and a Christian. The most important thing at stake was a life and she just saw the studen't sexual preference.

[deleted account]

As an adherent to the teachings of Jesus Christ, one must realize that Christ himself met people where they were at and did not avoid those who did not believe what He was teaching.

I believe that the correct thing was done in removing her from the program.

Just my opinion, which is uneducated and non-professional.

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