Judge rules that graduate school has the right to refuse to give counseling degree to actively homophobic student

This makes me really really happy.

When I was in graduate school, I had a number of homophobic classmates and a really homophobic instructor. I got nowhere when I tried to address any of this, saying that people's religion and political views were no business of the program's. I've also had similar workplace experiences, where I've showed administrators the codes of ethics that say we have to affirm and respect all people, and they've told me that, yes, ideally we are, but the agency isn't allowed to make an employee violate his/her religious or political beliefs. I am extremely happy that it's finally gone to court and a judge has ruled on this matter specifically. It seems obvious to me anyway that one's religious or personal or whatever beliefs can't be cited as a reason for refusing to do one's job. It's great that a university was so upfront in making it completely clear that this person needed to heal from homophobia in order to be allowed to have a counseling degree.

Also, I really hate that the GLBT community so often gets bundled in with "politics" or "religion" while other cultural groups don't. A large human services agency where I've worked marches in a couple of local ethnic-group parades and a couple of (very political, actually) disability rights events as an official company event with the company banner. But when I asked if we could march in Boston Pride, they said that we aren't allowed to participate in political events, being a nonprofit. Total bullshit, of course, since the regulation is that nonprofits can't have a substantial part of their time and money put toward partisan politics. And clearly the people who said this crap know nothing about the pride parade, since it's full of not only nonprofits, but also things like huge greedy corporations. Really sad that several major banks are showing more commitment to the GLBT community than a human services agency whose sole function is to affirm and support people in the community.

On a related note, I've often thought that we need to sort through "politics" and not allow so many things to be lumped under this sort of untouchable umbrella. As long as it's part of "politics," it's taboo for an ethics board or an employer to say anything to an employee who is advocating for unequal treatment of GLBT people, immigrants, people with disabilities, people with lower incomes, etc. Why is it acceptable to fire or fine a helping professional who says at the company lunch table "I really think queer people are inferior to me and should not have the quality of life that I have?," but it would be a huge legal nightmare to discipline someone for saying they had voted in this same way or had written this same thing to one's congressperson? They're expressions of the exact same beliefs, and these beliefs are not compatible with working in the helping professions.


Mike Watters said...

Oooh... Erika! You hit the nail on the head. In education PR, we're often asked to make an effort to include diverse students in our materials. Last year, I entered a photo I took in an elementary classroom in the Washington School PR Association (WSPRA) awards, and one of the comment sheets I got back said that the photo was "confusing" because "you couldn't tell if the student was a boy or a girl."

So ethnic diversity is OK and encouraged, but gender nonconformity is too confusing.

BTW, there was absolutely nothing on the comment sheet about the actual merits of the photo...

eeka said...

Are you serious? People really frustrate me sometimes.

I had a couple experiences in grad school where something said to talk about "diversity" or "culture" or "minority" and I wrote something about GLBT issues or people with disabilities issues or kids being raised by grandparents or something, and was told I'd missed the point. Mmhmm.