‘Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act’ before Michigan Legislature
May 17, 2012
Torch readers may recall the case of Julea Ward, an Eastern Michigan University (EMU) student in counseling who was expelled for seeking to refer a gay client to another counselor when counseling would have required violating her Christian beliefs. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a victory for Ward in January (her lawsuit against EMU is currently back in district court), and we wrote about the case at that time.
The State News, Michigan State University's student newspaper, reports that a bill is hitting the floor in the Michigan House of Representatives that seeks to provide statutory protections for students like Ward. House Bill 5040 was introduced last October and aims to prevent discrimination by Michigan universities against students in counseling, social work, and psychology who "refuse to counsel or serve a client as to goals that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of the student" provided that the student "refers the client to a counselor who will provide the counseling or services." FIRE will have more on this story as it progresses.