Counseling student can sue university

A conservative Christian, Julea Ward was expelled from a master’s program in counseling because she referred a gay client who wanted to discuss his orientation to another counselor. Ward said she couldn’t be supportive.  When Eastern Michigan University kicked her out of the program for anti-gay bias, she sued, charging religious bias and infringement of her free-speech rights. Ward’s suit was revived by a federal appeals court, which threw out a summary judgment, reports Education Week.

“Although the university submits it dismissed Ward from the program because her request for a referral violated the ACA code of ethics, a reasonable jury could find otherwise — that the code of ethics contains no such bar and that the university deployed it as a pretext for punishing Ward’s religious views and speech,” Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton wrote for the panel. “What exactly did Ward do wrong in making the referral request?” Sutton added. “If one thing is clear after three years of classes, it is that Ward is acutely aware of her own values. The point of the referral request was to avoid imposing her values on gay and lesbian clients.”

If a counselor disapproved of my lifestyle or beliefs, I’d prefer a referral to a pretense of support.

About Joanne


  1. Absolutely stupid for them to get rid of her over this. She’s doing the ethical thing in making sure those she sees can get the most benefit.

  2. Ditto with Jamie. If a counselor realizes they have a bias that may affect their client’s course of treatment, the most responsible thing to do is to refer the client to another qualified counselor. Instead what they’re demanding that Ward either lie or change her religious views. The first is immoral and the second is discriminatory to the point of illegality.

    • It’s all about making certain that everyone in the pipeline is 100% behind the ideological agenda of the top dogs.  No intellectual diversity is allowed.

  3. dangermom says:

    Besides, won’t nearly all counselors run into someone they can’t treat effectively? The counselor who is great with GLBTQ issues might not do so well with other issues–recognizing when you can’t be someone’s best support and doing a referral ought to be a basic counseling skill, shouldn’t it? Unless we’re going to decide that counseling requires a person to give up all humanity and beliefs about anything.

  4. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Something like this happened to Cal (the commenter), did it not?

  5. Kudos to the judicial system.

  6. Homosexuals may now be the most protected and elevated group of humans in the United States. If you don’t celebrate, promote or kowtow to homosexuality, you can get kicked out of school or lose your job. So don’t even think about saying anything unflattering about homosexuality. Therefore, repeat after me: “The gay lifestyle is the most wonderful thing in the world, and if you don’t think so, you’re a bigot and a homophobe.” It’s for your own good, people.