Jennifer Keeton is a student in the graduate counseling program at Augusta State University (ASU). She was placed on a remediation status by the faculty because of concerns Keeton may not be able to separate her personal, religious-based views on sexual morality from her personal counseling duties, in violation of the American Counseling Associations' Code of Ethics. The remediation plan included activities focused on writing and composition skills as well as multicultural competency. Failure to complete the remediation plan would have resulted in expulsion by the end of the year.

Keeton decided she was unable to participate in the sections of the remediation plan related to multi-cultural competency beceause of her personally-held beliefs on sexual morality. Keeton brought suit against officials at ASU and the Board of Regents for First Amendment violations including viewpoint discrimination, retaliation, compelled sppech, free exercise of religion, and other constitutional claims seeking declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. The ACLU of Georgia and the ACLU LGBT and AIDS project filed an amicus brief supporting ASU and explaining that this case is about compliance with professional, ethcial standards for counselors, not free speech or the free exercise of religion.


Keeton, after being denied a preliminary injunction by the Southern District of Georgia, appealed her case to the Eleventh Circuit. There, the District Court's decision was upheld as the Eleventh Circuit found that a public university graduate counseling program can require its students to follow the American Counseling Association's Code of Ethics. Their reasoning was that Keeton's statements to professors and students had conveyed her intention to violate the ACA's Code of Ethics upon becoming a counselor. Therefore, Augusta State University was justified in making her take a remediation course.

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