Wednesday, July 25, 2012
News for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physicians
Counseling student's case challenging GLBT curriculum dismissed
A federal district court decided recently that Augusta State University (ASU) officials did not violate a student's First Amendment rights when they required she take remedial training in response to her statements objecting to counseling standards for homosexual clients.
According to the court's opinion, Jennifer Keeton, a student in ASU's Counselor Education Program, stated that she would not "condone the propriety of homosexual relations or a homosexual identity in a counseling situation" on religious grounds. Concerned that Keeton's comments conflicted with accepted counseling guidelines and her ability to be an effective practitioner, ASU's faculty required that she complete remedial training, including attendance at diversity workshops, reading articles about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) counseling, and submitting written assignments discussing what she had learned.
In its opinion, the court agreed that ASU had burdened Keeton's speech and religious rights through the remediation program but determined that the burden was motivated "by a legitimate pedagogical interest in cultivating a professional demeanor and concern that she might prove unreceptive to certain issues and openly judge her clients."
"The allegations show, in sum, that while Keeton was motivated by her particular religious beliefs, defendants were not," the court wrote.
While some have applauded the decision as ensuring that students in educational programs cannot opt out of industry-accepted GLBT training, others are concerned about the constitutional questions it raises about academic freedom and the rights of students in clinical training programs.
Constitutional questions aside, AMA policy states that "the physician's nonjudgmental recognition of sexual orientation and behavior enhances the ability to render optimal patient care in health as well as in illness." Recognizing the benefits of GLBT training for physicians, the AMA provides an online resource, Know How to Communicate with LGBT Patients, to help clinicians.
Exodus leader renounces ex-gay therapy
Alan Chambers, leader of the Christian organization Exodus, which for more than 30 years has advocated gay reparative therapy, shocked many by recently renouncing the treatment as ineffective and potentially dangerous. The therapy, also known as "conversion" treatment, seeks to "cure" homosexuality through Christianity and psychotherapy.
A story by the New York Times examines Chambers' new position, in which he admits that there is no "cure" to being gay and that conversion treatment can harm "ex-gays" who are afraid to admit their spiritual struggles. While he considers homosexuality to be a sin, Chambers said he believed that those who persist in homosexual behavior san still be saved by Christ and go to heaven, the New York Times reports. His statements have led several affiliated ministries that offer reparative therapy to leave Exodus, but have been well received by many of its 150 member churches, according to the story.
The AMA has policy opposing reparative therapy as a treatment based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder—an assumption rejected by the American Psychiatric Association.