The Michigan Senate is expected to vote soon on a
House-approved bill that would effectively legalize discrimination in
counseling programs at public colleges and universities throughout the state.
The Center for Inquiry (CFI)
strongly opposes this measure and implores Michigan residents to contact their senators
and tell them to vote “no.”
The so-called "Julea Ward Freedom of
Conscience Act" would forbid Michigan’s public colleges and universities from
disciplining a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program if
he or she refuses to serve a client whose behaviors or goals conflict with the
student’s religious beliefs. The bill is named after a former graduate
counseling student at Eastern Michigan University who was removed from her
position and expelled after she referred a client to another counselor because
the client’s file indicated a past gay relationship – which she opposed as an evangelical
Religious believers often cite this case as an
example of discrimination against religious counseling students. Yet it is
simply an example of requiring all counseling students to comply with the same
rules. The Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association and the
Ethical Standards of the American School Counselor Association – which all counselors
are obligated to follow – mandate that counselors are not to allow their
personal values to intrude into their professional work.
CFI believes this is a reasonable policy. No one
is forced to become a counselor, and whoever chooses to pursue counseling as a
career path should be prepared to serve all those who request their services. A
government-mandated special exemption from the aforementioned Codes of Ethics
for religious counseling students would unfairly – and unconstitutionally –
privilege religious reasons over nonreligious ones.
If the Julea Ward Act were passed into law, student
counselors in Michigan would have
free rein to delay or obstruct services to student clients who do not follow
their religious views. This is unacceptable.
Only you can prevent this bill from becoming
law. Stand with the Center for Inquiry and tell your state senator to vote
against the Julea Ward Act today!
Tell Your Senator to Reject Bill That Would Allow Religious Discrimination in Counseling
Dear [Decision Maker],
As a friend of the Center for Inquiry, I am writing to you with serious concerns regarding an upcoming vote in the Michigan Senate on a House-approved bill that would effectively legalize discrimination in counseling programs at public colleges and universities throughout the state.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]
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