.- A lawsuit was filed against Eastern Michigan University on Thursday after school officials allegedly dismissed a student from the school’s counseling program for not affirming homosexual behavior as morally acceptable. The Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of student Julea Ward.
EMU reportedly requires students in its counseling program to affirm or validate homosexual behavior within the context of a counseling relationship. It also prohibits students from advising clients that they can change their homosexual behavior.
According to the Alliance Defense Fund, Ward has never addressed homosexual behavior in any form during counseling sessions with her clients.
The school initiated a disciplinary process against Ward and reportedly said she could stay in the graduate school counseling program if she agreed to undergo a “remediation” program. According to the ADF, the program’s purpose was to change her belief system as it concerns counseling about homosexual relationships and to conform her beliefs to the university’s views.
Given the choice of voluntarily leaving the program or asking for a formal review hearing, Ward chose the hearing.
During the hearing, EMU faculty reportedly denigrated her Christian views and asked “several inappropriate and intrusive questions about her religious beliefs,” the ADF said.
Pam Young, director of Communications for EMU, would not address the Ward's dismissal, and instead explained that the university has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation. Young told WorldNetDaily that, “we are a diverse campus with a strong commitment not to discriminate on the basis of gender, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression."
But ADF Senior Counsel David French says that discrimination is exactly what took place. "Christian students shouldn’t be penalized for holding to their beliefs," he said. "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. She would have gladly counseled the client if the subject had been nearly any other matter."
ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco added: “Julea has a constitutional right not to be compelled to speak a message she disagrees with. She acted as a professional counselor should--with great concern both for her beliefs and the client.”
Tedesco claimed that EMU’s policies are incompatible with the Constitution.