SPECIAL SECTION FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS
Free speech v.
Psychologists are battling a growing trend that allows
students to opt out of diversity training.
BY REBECCA A. CLAY
Julea Ward was a student in a master’s-level counseling program at Eastern Michigan University when she was assigned to counsel a gay client. While she was prepared
to counsel the client on issues unrelated to sexual orientation,
she did not want to address issues that might involve a same-
sex relationship, which violated her religious beliefs. She sought
advice from faculty regarding the situation, explaining that her
religious faith prohibited her from affirming homosexuality
and suggesting that the client be referred elsewhere before
the counseling began. The program did not agree with her
proposed solution and suggested remediation. After declining
to participate in remediation, Ward was eventually expelled.
(BEA) Virtual Working Group on Restrictions Affecting
Diversity Training in Graduate Education is warning that
such laws threaten psychology’s ability to prepare professional
psychologists who are competent to serve an increasingly
diverse public. The working group is also creating resources to
help training programs prevent and address potential conflicts
between trainees’ beliefs and program policies.
“The issue is whether trainers of professional psychologists
are going to retain their control over the nature of training,”
says Clinton Anderson, PhD, director of APA’s Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Concerns Office. “From a
public interest perspective, the biggest issue is whether people
... are going to have their access to care affected by these
‘conscience clause’ requirements.”