Academic Bullying at a Tennessee Public College

The entire nation learned this week that many Tennesseans don’t fully appreciate how liberal some of the departments in our state’s public colleges are.  What recently took place at Columbia State Community College in the middle of a more rural, conservative area of our state is proof we need to wake up and demand our legislators right the ship.  Read more. . . . 

The week began with the revelation that a major component of the prestigious social work program at New York’s Columbia University is being run by a number of folks from the far left who are convicted felons.  We’re not talking about professors who were arrested for overzealous protesting in their youth.  We’re talking about convictions for murder, attempted murder, robbery, and assault.

It is easy for those of us in a state as “red” as Tennessee to think, “Thank you, Lord, we don’t live in a state like that!”  And we don’t.  But a letter released to the press this week by Alliance Defending Freedom demonstrated that liberal indoctrination and “academic bullying” does take place in at least some of Tennessee’s public colleges.

The letter states that the lead professor of psychology at Columbia State Community College, in Columbia, Tennessee, made her students wear around campus a rainbow colored ribbon indicative of support for the homosexual political agenda as part of a class assignment.  It’s clearly government compelled “speech.”  But that’s not the worst of it.

The professor also instructed the students to tell others, if asked what the ribbon meant, that they were showing their support for the homosexual community and homosexual rights.  That’s the kind of compelled speech for which the word speech doesn’t need to be in quotation marks.

Unfortunately, another form of compelled speech has begun to crop up in the counseling-related fields.  In fields of study like psychology, social work, and counseling, students are often required to perform some kind of counseling internship in which they counsel individuals under the general supervision of licensed professionals and their professors.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a trend toward forcing Christian students during their internships to counsel clients even when the goal or objective of the counseling would force the student to violate his or her strongly held religious beliefs.  A particular aspect of that trend seems to entail forcing conservative Christian students to counsel clients in favor of homosexual relationships that they, in good conscience, can’t promote.  If they refuse, they might be kicked out of school just hours short of earning their degree, as has happened in public colleges in other states.

To protect these students, Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) and Representative John DeBerry (D-Memphis) introduced a bill (Senate Bill 514/House Bill 1185) in the state legislature during the last session that would allow such a student to have the counselee referred to another counselor who can provide the requested counseling in good conscience.

The Senate passed the bill overwhelmingly (22 to 4), but pressure from the Tennessee Psychological Association, the Tennessee Board of Regents that governs Columbia State, and others got the bill held up in the House Education Subcommittee.

Legislators were assured by some opponents of the bill that professors would never force a student to counsel someone if the student really could not do so in good conscience.  The situation at Columbia State would say otherwise.

Columbia State’s lead psychology professor seems to have no problem with compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment.  If the lead psychology professor would force students to wear around campus emblems of political positions they don’t support and tell people they support those positions when they don’t, then could a legislator really trust that professor would not force students to counsel someone contrary to their religious convictions?

Some state legislators don’t seem to want to deal with controversial legislation on social issues unless there is already a problem in our state.  Taking the political heat for fixing something once it’s a problem seems preferable to taking the heat to prevent the problem in the first place.

Well, the problem to be addressed by Senate Bill 514/House Bill 1185 is here.  Now let’s hope our state Representatives will fix it.

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More details on the Columbia State situation and a link to the letter from the Alliance Defending Freedom can be found here.