The evidence continues to mount that the helping professions are hostile to those with certain beliefs. Social work and counseling programs produce case after case of bias against libertarians, conservatives, and Christians—anyone who does not conform to the progressive politics espoused by these disciplines.
Three years ago NAS published a report, The Scandal of Social Work Education (pdf), which found that a national accrediting agency for U.S. schools of social work required future social workers “to pursue policies, services, and resources through advocacy and social or political actions [italics added] that promote social and economic justice.” Social justice, NAS noted, is generally interpreted as advocacy of more egalitarian access to income through state-sponsored redistribution. The report included case histories of three social work students at three different schools.
Emily Brooker, a student at
Bill Felkner’s grades suffered when he wrote against instead of in favor of a social welfare bill while attending the
Sandra Fuiten felt compelled to leave the social work program at the
Last year, NAS wrote about Julea Ward, who was kicked out of
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) successfully resolved Emily Brooker’s case and is currently representing Julea Ward. This week, ADF filed yet another lawsuit against
After learning that Keeton believes homosexuality is a choice, not a “state of being,” the university told her to attend “diversity sensitivity” training and attend a gay pride parade. Faculty members threatened Keeton with expulsion if she did not comply with the remediation program. In this video, Keeton tells her story in her own words.
The Chronicle of Higher Education coverage of this case elicited a firestorm of comments and controversy. One commenter who self-identifies as a gay person writes that the university was wrong to dismiss Keeton on the basis of her beliefs, not her actions. Others compare Keeton’s beliefs to those of Holocaust-deniers, flat-earthers, and Creationists.
The common factor in cases like this seems to be the idea that certain professions come with certain belief systems. As the ADF press release states, the university labeled Keeton’s beliefs as “unethical and incompatible with the prevailing views of the counseling profession.”
That sounds a lot like what a social work professor told Bill Felkner: that the school “is a perspective school and we teach that perspective,” and that “if you're going to lobby on that bill, you're going to lobby in our perspective.” The professor later said that the social work school taught from a “progressive social change perspective.” Basically what this means is, “if you don’t embrace our politics, you’re not welcome in this field.” This posture has wide-ranging consequences. It seeks to bar a whole population of qualified counselors and social workers from entering the field.
When Felkner questioned the in-class showing of the Bush-bashing Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 9/11, the professor replied that "as a profession we do take sides," and that social work is a "value-based profession that clearly articulates a socio-political ideology about how the world works and how the world should be." The professor closed his email saying:
I revel in my biases. So, I think that anyone who consistently holds antithetical views to those that are espoused by the profession might ask themselves whether social work is the profession for them…or similarly, if one finds the views in the curriculum at RIC SSW [Rhode Island College School of Social Work] antithetical to those they hold closely, then this particular school might not be a good fit for them.
The Alliance Defense Fund is to be commended for taking up the cause of these marginalized students. But how many more must be marginalized before the helping professions stop hurting its helpers-in-training?