University Settles With Christian Student Who Objected to Social-Work Assignment

November 09, 2006

Missouri State University has settled a lawsuit with a former social-work student who asserted that the institution had retaliated against her for not participating in a class project supporting homosexuals’ adoption of children. The university announced it would pay Emily Brooker $9,000 as well as cover about $12,000 in fees for a master’s degree in social work. It will also pay for living expenses for two years of graduate school.

Ms. Brooker argued that Frank G. Kauffman, the assistant professor who directed her undergraduate social-work program, had accused her of violating the university’s Standards of Essential Functioning in Social Work Education after she refused to sign her name to a letter her entire class had written to the Missouri Legislature in support of homosexual adoption. She maintained that signing such a letter violated her Christian beliefs. Mr. Kauffman has voluntarily stepped down as head of the program, according to the university, although he remains on the faculty.

Several conservative groups have attacked the Council on Social Work Education, an accrediting body, for imposing standards on the field that discriminate against students based on their political beliefs and that violate their free-speech rights. The groups contend that the requirements can amount to a loyalty test to left-wing principles.