Diversity Committee Blog

Regular blog postings on diversity issues and concerns.

April 17, 2015

APA Urges End to Persecution of Women

Read APA's press release, "APA Urges End to Persecution of Women," which was released on the one-year anniversary of the Boko Haram kidnappings.

March 9, 2015

2015 Diversity Leadership Development Workshop

Dear Colleagues:
It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I announce the participants of the 2015 Diversity Leadership Development Workshop:

Name, SPTA
  • Gary Carrington, PhD, Ohio
  • Linda Daniels, PsyD, Massachusetts
  • Lucinda DeGrange, PhD, Louisiana
  • Jessica Floyd, PsyD, Maryland
  • Susanne Francis, PsyD, Illinois
  • Willie Garrett, EdD, Minnesota
  • Nekeshia Hammond, PsyD, Florida
  • Le Ondra Clark Harvey, PhD, California
  • Charmain Jackman, PhD, Massachusetts
  • Johanna Kang, MA, Nevada
  • Anatasia Kim, PhD, California
  • Alfonso Mercado, PhD, Texas
  • Christi Moore, PhD, Missouri
  • Ruddy Taylor, PhD, Alaska
  • Ann Williams, PhD, North Carolina

This is the fourth class of the program. The purpose of the workshop is to provide leadership development training with the goal of helping the participants advance into leadership positions within their SPTAs. The workshop will occur on Friday, March 13, 2015, the day prior to the State Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

The workshop will be led by Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD; Sandra Shullman, PhD; Melba Vasquez, PhD; and Cathy McDaniels Wilson, PhD. These four esteemed psychologists have leadership development skills as well as an understanding of the challenges that psychologists of color face in becoming leaders in organizations, especially SPTAs. The three areas of focus will be leadership, negotiating and mentoring. Following the workshop, the APA Board of Directors will be sponsoring a wine and cheese reception for the participants in the APA Capital View Conference Center.
The workshop is a joint project between Div. 31 and the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs/Commission on Ethnic Minority Retention, Recruitment, and Training in Psychology.
I would like to thank the individuals and groups who contributed money to support the program. A special thank-you to Ms. Susan Lazaroff for her support of this initiative over the eight years and the four special facilitators: Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD; Sandra Shullman, PhD; Melba Vasquez, PhD; and Cathy McDaniels Wilson, PhD.
I am very fortunate to be associated with such a special program.
Warm Regards,
Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD, ABPP
APA Recording Secretary

February 9, 2015

What to Do if "Conscience Clause" Legislation Is Proposed in Your Jurisdiction?

A Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) working group has developed a pedagogical statement to address conscience clause legislation directed at training programs. Additional links provide the legal context and other resources to assist programs in responding to these challenging issues. A practice statement is currently under development by a joint BEA/Board of Professional Affairs working group. Stay tuned for more information on this topic.

November 11, 2014

Why We Can't Forget Older Homeless Veterans on Veterans Day

The APA Public Interest Directorate recently published a blog post by Jack Tsai, PhD, and Lisa M. Brown, PhD, on the challenges that older homeless veterans face. May you enjoy this resource. Please don't hesitate to let us know if there's additional content we should be sharing with our colleagues by contacting Michi Fu, PhD.

October 21, 2014

Know-How: The Trans Person's Guide for New York State

Out for Health, Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes'(PPSFL) LGBT Health and Wellness Program, announces the publication of a brand new free resource for transgender people in New York and providers that work with and care for them — "Know-How: The Trans Person's Guide for New York State."

The program in Ithaca, New York, has been getting consistent questions about the legal and administrative paperwork processes in New York that many trans people need to engage with regarding changing their name and gender marker on their driver's license, passport, social security card, etc. They wanted to create one place where all of the information about name and gender marker changes was gathered together for ease of use. They worked with the Ithaca College Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services and their regional Transgender Advisory Committee on this project.

The program also provides downloadable templates for all of the letters required to navigate these processes (samples provider letters for DMV, Social Security, birth certificate, passport, Selective Service, medication carry letters, etc.) on the PPSFL's Transgender Hormone Therapy & Preventive Health Services Web page.

Out for Health provides quality, compassionate care from an informed-consent model for our transgender patients in their New York Health Center. They serve transgender people and people at various places on the spectrum of gender identity and expression. They are committed to improving the way transgender people receive health care in the region and work together with transgender community to lead the way in eliminating barriers to care.

October 20, 2014

Close to Home: A Psychologist Reflects on Providing Crisis Counseling in Ferguson

The APA's Public Interest Directorate's blog post in its ongoing race, racism and law enforcement series, "Close to Home: A Psychologist Reflects on Providing Crisis Counseling in Ferguson," was written by Jameca Falconer, PhD. Falconer, a counseling psychologist working in St. Louis, has been providing crisis counseling in Ferguson. She has powerful recommendations for what psychologists can do to help communities like Ferguson.

August 15, 2014

Public Information Statement in Response to the Shooting Death of Michael Brown

Many thanks to APA's Public Affairs Office for issuing a "Public Information Statement in Response to the Shooting Death of Michael Brown," which reminds readers that the field of psychology has several studies related to the difficult dynamics between police and members of minority groups in many communities. Do you have questions/comments related to this topic? Div. 31's Diversity Task Force wants to hear from you. 


Michi Fu, PhD Div. 31 Diversity Task Force Blog Coordinator

July 3, 2014

APA's Statement Regarding Immigration and Children Testimony

Dear Colleagues, 

Please take a moment to consider APA's testimony (PDF, 152KB) regarding the surge of unaccompanied minors entering the United States, which was presented by Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, associate executive director of APA's Public Interest Directorate and director of the Public Interest Government Relations Office. We hope this information regarding this current event will be helpful to your work. 


Michi Fu 

April 21, 2014

Div. 31 Diversity Award Given to Arkansas Psychological Association

The Div. 31 Diversity Task Force congratulates the Arkansas Psychological Association (ArPA) for receiving the Div. 31 Diversity Award. 

ArPA's Diversity Committee, established in 2005, is a standing committee of the board. ArPA's current president is an African-American woman, and she is their first president of color. 

Since 2010, ArPA has held annual multicultural continuing education workshops. In 2013, they held their first Diversity Conference and collaborated with the Arkansas Association of Black Psychologists for the local National Alliance on Mental Illness Walk and a National Depression & General Health Screening Event.

They have created a Diversity Link via the Internet and increased membership and leadership with people from
diverse backgrounds. They implemented a mentoring program, including monthly diversity seminars for students. In 2012, the Diversity Committee administered a diversity membership survey, which will be used for future directions of the ArPA.

Once again, the Diversity Task Force of Div. 31 congratulates ArPA's Diversity Committee for their commendable accomplishments and looks forward to seeing how their efforts continue to inform their state psychological association.

February 7, 2014

Summer Research Fellowship Opportunity

Interested in working with Hispanic children and families?  If so, read further to learn about a summer research fellow program opportunity.

In the U.S., Hispanics represent the largest, and one of the fastest growing, minority population subgroups.  To help inform how programs and policy can better serve Hispanic children and families, Child Trends and Abt Associates are pleased to announce the creation of the  National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families (Center). The center comprises a strong team of national experts on Hispanic issues and is a hub of research to improve the lives of Hispanics across three priority areas—(1) poverty reduction and self-sufficiency, (2) healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood and (3) early care and education. The center was established by a 2013 cooperative agreement from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families to Child Trends in partnership with Abt Associates and university partners (University of Maryland-College Park, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and New York University). 

The newly launched center is also pleased to announce a new  Summer Research Fellowship Program for 2014. In its inaugural year, the goal of the Summer Research Fellowship Program is to attract, develop, and expand the pool of emerging scholars focused on studying issues concerning low-income and vulnerable Hispanic children and families.  This 12-week program is open to those currently enrolled in an advanced graduate program (master's PhD, or ABD - “all but dissertation”) and will provide graduate students with the opportunity to carry out policy-research in an applied setting, and in ways that can impact both policy and programs serving Hispanic children and families.  We currently are accepting applications for summer 2014 research fellowships.  Apply today. Due to the demand, applicants should be sure to submit applications by the deadline of March 7, 2014.

December 3, 2013

Ethnic Minority Fellowship and Professional Development Programs

Please apply for the following fellowship and professional development opportunities offered by APA's Minority Fellowship Program.

Fellowship Programs

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (MHSAS) Predoctoral Fellowship
This fellowship is aimed at those pursuing doctoral degrees in clinical, counseling and school psychology, or other behavioral health services areas. Deadline: Jan.15 .

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (MHSAS) Postdoctoral Fellowship
This fellowship is aimed at early career doctoral recipients who are interested in developing a career in behavioral health services or policy. Deadline: Jan. 15 .

Professional Development

Psychology Summer Institute (PSI)
This program is a week-long intensive training aimed at advanced doctoral students and early career doctoral recipients. PSI provides mentoring and career development as participants develop projects focusing on ethnic minority issues. Deadline: May 1.

Recovery to Practice (RTP)
RTP is a five-year initiative to promote mental health recovery principles and practices for psychologists.

October 29, 2013

Social-Justice-Oriented Psychologists Issue Statement on Trayvon Martin Case
The killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman for his death is still very fresh in our minds. This case represents something much deeper in our society. Social-justice-oriented psychologists within the APA wrote and endorsed a statement on the Trayvon Martin killing and the racialized murder of men of color. Div. 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues) participated in the development of the statement and is one of the endorsers.

October 18, 2013

Inaugural Arthur Nezu Dissertation Diversity Award
The American Board of Professional Psychology is accepting submissions for the inaugural Arthur Nezu Dissertation Diversity Award. The recipient of the award will receive $1,000 cash prize and be honored at the ABPP Convocation at the APA Annual Convention. The first award will be presented August 2014. Deadline: Dec. 15, 2013. Apply today.

September 30, 2013

Milton Fuentes, PsyD, Featured in Ethnicity and Health in America Series

Milton Fuentes, PsyD, is an associate professor at Montclair State University and licensed psychologist in New Jersey and New York, as well as the director of the Clinical and Community Studies laboratory in the psychology department. He is a founding member and former president of the Latino Psychological Association of New Jersey and the 2013 past president of the National Latino Psychological Association. Fuentes' interests are in the areas of Latino and multicultural psychology, child psychology and family psychology. 

Learn more about Milton Fuentes, PsyD 

July 26, 2013

ECP Programming at the 2013 APA Convention

Aloha! As usual, convention will have a lot of programming and activities targeted towards ECP members. If you are coming to Honolulu, hope to see you at many of these.

  • Specific programming for ECPs with topics including Financial Planning and Loan Repayment, Balancing Parenting with Professional Life, and starting a private practice, among others.
  • A breakfast meeting for ECPs who are leaders (or interested in becoming leaders) in SPTAs, Divisions, or APA.
  • An ECP social on Saturday night with good food and great company.
  • Coffee with the Committee on Early Career Psychologists – look for me there!
  • For ECP parents, be sure to check out APA Kid’s Place, a gathering for families with activities for kids.

For details about these events, see the Monitor or feel free to contact me via email.

See you in Hawai'i! 

Sarah Morsbach Honaker, PhD 

Committee on Early Career Psychologists Liaison to Division 31

July 19, 2013

Hiring a Diverse Faculty (and Staff)

This article describes efforts this author used to hire new faculty members at a university. The results included 30% ethnic minorities and over 50% women. It also briefly describes moving diverse candidates into positions of leadership.

After serving as chair of the psychology department at Fordham University, I was privileged to serve as Dean of Arts and Sciences at the State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY-Oswego)and then later as Vice President for Academic Affairs at two private universities. In this brief article, I wanted to talk about the strategies that were used to hire a very diverse faculty at SUNY-Oswego; it speaks to many of the diversity issues in our society.

To begin this brief narrative, I need to share some context. Four years prior to my being hired as dean, a new president had been hired, Stephen L. Weber. One of his goals upon entering the university had been to diversify the faculty, but he had been having difficulty in so doing. That I had recently edited, the Psychological Testing of Hispanics (APA Books), and had taught the Equal Employment Opportunity Hiring course for Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations were among the reasons I was hired. Shortly after beginning my work, at a meeting of the department chairs (19 white, male chairs), I shared a list of questions that are normally illegal during job interviews. After a number of the chairs expressed the reasons why they thought some of the questions should be asked, we discussed the implications of some questions. I still remember the representative of the library, one of three women in attendance revealing as part of that discussion that when she had been interviewed some 25 years earlier the following question had been put to her, “Will your husband allow you to work evenings and weekends?”

The operational process began with further discussions that Oswego State had too little diversity on the faculty and staff because so many had been hired during the 1960s and there was little subsequent hiring in the 1980s when budgets contracted; while there were numerous reasons that this deficiency was problematic, we stressed that it affected our ability to attract students from New York City and its environs, from whence some 40% of our undergraduate students came. This recognition was discussed widely. We talked about the fact that when hiring a single person, quality was always most important. However, when looking at an entire faculty, if there was limited diversity, there was likely limited quality. Ultimately, diversity is an important component of quality. The University also developed some affirmative action guidelines. These guidelines encouraged search committees to seek out and recruit diverse candidates. We began writing to the Historically Black Colleges (HBCs) and the Hispanic Serving institutions (HSIs/HACUs), announcing our open positions and asking them to inform their alumni who were in graduate school about our positions. After the first year of this step, we attempted to anticipate future open positions based on retirements and program growth across the university and to share these expected openings in letters sent to these same institutions. Starting in the second year these letters were sent by an associate provost for diversity, thus relieving the departments of this responsibility.

A somewhat more aggressive step was taken by the affirmative action officer (AAO) and the dean (in many cases, me). In accordance with our articulated affirmative action guidelines, when the search committees sent forward their proposed finalists to interview, the affirmative action officer and the dean had one week to “certify and approve” the list so that candidates could be brought to campus to interview for the position. Search committees were also supposed to identify diverse candidates whom they were not advancing as finalists. The AAO and the dean reviewed these candidates and compared them to the identified finalists. While this second review never reversed search committee decisions, and often approved them as submitted, there were occasions when we needed to ask questions—sometimes extremely difficult questions.

“Why did you reject this Hispanic candidate who appears qualified and comparable to the finalists?”
“His file only has two letters of reference and we require three.”
“Have you let him know that only two letters were received?”
“No, that is his obligation.”
“Well, let’s let him know and give him a week or so to get another letter in to see if he appears comparable.”

“Why did you not consider this woman for the position in your science department?”
“She’s lived all her life in big cities; she would not like it here!”
“She applied for the position and don’t you think that is a decision she should make?”

“What was the reason that you thought that this woman did not qualify as a finalist?”
“Women have never succeeded in our department.”
“”Ah, ah,…well, let’s see if this woman’s references are really strong; maybe she is a person who could change that, what do you think?”

Needless to say, those discussions were somewhat difficult to hold in a world where one such as a dean is evaluated by using 360 methods. And I cannot say that the above processes and discussions changed long held attitudes, but over my five years as dean in that college, we hired almost 40 new full-time faculty members. More than 50% were women and more than 30% were underserved minorities. It was a clear accomplishment about which I obviously continue to have pride.

We also moved a number of women and minorities into positions of leadership, including department chairs, associate and assistant deans positions, and program directors. My most successful action in this regard was when as a chief academic officer at another university I hired a woman (with two Ph.D.’s, one in Biology and one in Theology) to be dean of a school of theology that trained Catholic priests!

I wonder if such affirmative action procedures could work at hospitals. And I should note that my record, while respectable at the two schools where I worked as a chief academic officer, never fully matched those where I served as dean. Having a highly supportive president to provide leadership and run interference helped immeasurably.

One of the things I love about APA is both its diversity and its commitment to diversity. I have attempted in this brief article to provide a few procedures that I think helped to diversify and modernize a faculty that had been largely intact for 30 years. It was a great experience. I note also that just hiring diverse faculty is not enough. One needs to provide some support mechanisms for an institution located away from population centers. We actually set up a social support network for one faculty member who left another fine institution because she was isolated there.

Are these processes something appropriate for hiring practitioners? I think that the answer is maybe. Some practices are growing. In such cases, diversity may help a small organization. Many practitioners are also moving to hospital settings—psychologists and medical doctors alike. I would like to think that some of these procedures could help in such settings too.

Kurt F. Geisinger has served one term on the APA Board of Directors, and is candidate for APA president-elect.

geisinger Contact information:

Kurt F. Geisinger, PhD
Meierhenry Distinguished University Professor and Director
Buros Center for Testing
21 Teachers College Hall
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE
Telephone: (402) 472-3280

May 7, 2013

Debt, Race and PhDs
In his article, "Debt, Race and PhDs," Scott Jaschik, editor and one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed, discusses a study released by the American Institutes for Research that may point to one hindrance in increasing the number of black and Latino students who earn doctorates, especially in STEM or social science fields.

April 13, 2013

Nature vs. Nurture?

It's the age-old debate in our field of whether our biological makeup vs. our environment influences who we are. Perhaps this Psychiatric News Alert from the American Psychiatric Association, "Gene Variations in Alzheimer's Shows Racial Variations, Study Finds," will help you formulate your own thoughts.

For suggestions regarding future posts for the Diversity Task Force blog, please feel free to contact Michi Fu, PhD.

April 10, 2013

Request for Proposals: 2013 APA CEMRRAT Implementation Grants Fund for Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology

The APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology II (CEMRRAT2) Task Force is pleased to announce its request for proposals for the 2013 APA CEMRRAT Implementation Grants Fund (IGF) for Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology. APA's Public Interest Directorate has once again been awarded funding in 2013 to continue implementation of the CEMRRAT plan. The five goals of that plan are: (a) promote and improve multicultural training in psychology; (b) increase ethnic minority faculty recruitment and retention in psychology; (c)increase ethnic minority student recruitment, retention and graduation in psychology; (d) provide national leadership for diversity and multiculturalism in education, science and human services; and (e) promote data collection, research, and evaluation on ethnic minority recruitment, retention, education, graduation and training.

As in previous years, the CEMRRAT IGF intends to serve as a source for "seed funding" to energize, empower, and support interested individuals, organizations, and educational institutions committed to enhancing and/or increasing ethnic minority recruitment, retention and training in psychology.

Eligible applicants for these grant funds are state psychological associations, APA divisions, departments/schools of psychology, APA boards and committees, other entities of organized psychology, and individuals. Applicants must be APA members at the time funds are awarded.

Unlike the process of rolling submissions used in the past, all proposals must be received by the APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs (OEMA) on or before May 31. It is anticipated that approximately two to four proposals will be funded under each of the seven priority areas listed below. Typical award size is between $1,000 and $3,500.

The established funding priorities for FY2013 are:

  • Training: Professional Development/Linguistic Minorities — To support projects/ activities that promote the development of training programs (and associated professional development of faculty) that improve services to linguistic minorities. Examples of such activities/ projects include: (a) collecting, publishing and disseminating model programs that focus on training for services with linguistic minority populations, (b) designing, documenting, and evaluating mental health services, research and professional psychology training programs focused on linguistic minorities, and (c) establishing practicum or mental health services research training in settings serving linguistic minorities. (Approximately $6,000 is available)

  • Current Initiative: Racial/Ethnic Minority Health Disparities — To support projects/ activities that serve to increase the number of prospective and early career ethnic minority psychology faculty committed to issues of diversity in research and scientific inquiry, and who will contribute to scientific educational experiences and role modeling in academic settings. Examples of projects include technical assistance workshops in grant application skills or publication processes, workshops for teaching doctoral students in learning styles, and/or development of course exams and preparing future faculty. This funding priority area is also interested in increasing the representation of ethnic minority psychologists in academia and teaching careers. However, it is recognize that those efforts to launch such activities/ projects may exceed available funding; therefore, highest consideration will be given to proposals that present a funding match as part of the request. [Please note: This funding priority area is not designed to support research projects, faculty salary or post-doctoral fellowship supplements, or dissertation research.] (Approximately $7,000 is available.)

  • Faculty Development — To support projects/ activities that serve to promote increased levels of multicultural competence in teaching, practice, and research among a program’s/department’s psychology faculty. Individual professional development will be considered only if applicant presents evidence of limited institutional support or resources for such activities. (Approximately $10,000 is available)

  • Students: Undergraduate/Graduate Innovation — To support projects/ activities for undergraduate and graduate departments and professional schools related to developing innovative strategies for recruitment, retention, and graduation of ethnic minority students in psychology. Applications should propose support of educational transition from high school, to college, to graduate school. (Approximately $8,000 is available)

  • Students: STEM — To support projects/ activities for individuals, organizations, and educational institutions that are committed to identifying, demonstrating, documenting, or disseminating innovative tools and strategies that define psychology as a STEM discipline. (Approximately $5,000 is available)
    Students: Indigenous Approaches — To support projects/ activities that promote outreach, applied experiences, and service learning for ethnic minority students across the educational pipeline. (Approximately $8,000 is available)

  • Monitoring & Assessment of Ethnic Minority Representation and Participation in Psychology — To support data collection, research, and evaluation on ethnic minority recruitment, retention, education, graduation, leadership development, training, and diversity in psychology. In addition to projects that are informative to the developmental process and institutional procedures associated with effective ethnic minority recruitment, retention, and training. (Approximately $3,000 is available)

There is a standard cover sheet (PDF, 29.6KB) that must accompany the application. Successful applications (in no more than five pages) should describe: (a) problem to be addressed and what is to be done (goals and activities), (b) how these goals are to be accomplished (procedures), (c) expected outcomes or findings, (d) a justified budget for the funding amount requested, and (e) rationales as to how the proposed effort is consistent with the CEMRRAT funding priorities and the provisions of the CEMRRAT Plan. In general, CEMRRAT funds may NOT be used to support travel, indirect or overhead costs, or research projects, unless such expenses are strongly justified and integral to project objectives.

It is hoped that those activities that receive funding will serve as demonstration models. Consequently, progress reports will be expected to be submitted annually by December 1, and a final report must be submitted within 60 days of completion of the funded activity.
Information and materials required for submission must be received by OEMA on or before May 31, 2013. Please direct all inquiries and submissions to:

American Psychological Association
Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Telephone: (202) 336-6029
Fax: (202) 336-6040

April 9, 2013

Preparing Professional Psychologists to Serve a Diverse Public

In response to legislative initiatives and court rulings that have the potential to restrict diversity training in professional psychology doctoral programs, the APA Board of Education Affairs (BEA) charged a virtual Working Group to:

  • Prepare informative materials for education and training program administrators, faculty, and prospective and current students, as well as for state psychological associations and the general public, addressing the potential impact of legislative provisions or court rulings on diversity training in graduate education

  • Provide recommendations regarding related issues that need to be addressed.

The pedagogical statement (PDF, 63KB) was developed by the BEA working group and has been approved by BEA for distribution. As indicated in the footnote to the statement, "This statement was prepared as an educative summary of relevant pedagogical principles applicable to doctoral training of psychologists and is consistent with both the APA Ethics Code (2010) and the Guidelines and Principles for the Accreditation of Professional Psychology Programs of the APA's Commission on Accreditation (APA, 2012)."

Next up on the agenda is further development and approval for distribution of additional resources, slide sets and other supporting materials for education and training programs and for State Psychological Associations who are responding to restrictive legislative initiatives.

For additional information, you are referred to the special section on this topic that was published in Training and Education in Professional Psychology (TEPP) in November 2012. A brief summary of relevant Court Rulings and State Legislative Actions follows (with special thanks to Linda Forrest):

Two recent federal district court cases (Keeton v. Anderson-Wiley et al., 2010; Ward v. Wilbanks et al., 2010) brought by students, who were dismissed from counseling programs, have implications for professional psychology training programs. In both of these court cases, graduate students in masters in counseling programs expressed concern about offering counseling to individuals whose sexual orientation was in conflict with their religious beliefs. When faculty established remedial actions and the students refused to engage in or complete the remediation plan, they were each dismissed from the respective programs. Subsequently these students with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a coalition of Christian lawyers, sued the universities. In both cases, the ADF lawyers argued that being forced to comply with the remediation plans effectively required the student to change their religious beliefs. The academic programs' attorneys argued that ethical codes (American Counseling Association) and professional standards require counselors to provide services to categories of clients in a nondiscriminatory manner.

In the Ward case, the judge cited evidence submitted by the university that the student was not sanctioned for her religious beliefs, but because the student was not meeting the ethical and professional standards established by the training program. Faculty members testified that they did not care about student's personal religious beliefs or require that she change them; they only required that she agree to counsel people in nondiscriminatory manner consistent with the standards of the profession, which include not imposing her moral viewpoint on clients or attempting to change a client's sexual orientation. In the Keeton case, the judge upheld the right of the counseling program to dismiss a master's student because she wanted to change the client's sexual orientation. The judge found that the university was enforcing a legitimate educational requirement (i.e., students must learn to counsel all kinds of clients in a manner that does not judge clients or their values). The ruling stated that the court was not endorsing the association's ethics code, but respecting the professional association's right to establish an ethics code and the right of universities and its faculty to select and include the ethics code as an academic requirement. Both judges ruled that matters of educational policy are correctly left to educators and that is not the role of judges to second-guess those judgments.

In the Ward case, an appeals court reversed the ruling by the lower court based on concerns about whether the referral policy was applied in an even and nondiscriminatory manner. The appeals court noted that there was some evidence to support the uneven application of the referral policy (which, for example, allows a grieving student to refer a grieving client), and an ACA standard that allows counselors to make a value-based referral in cases of a terminally ill client exploring end of life options. The appeals court ruling also addressed faculty conduct at the formal review in which it could be inferred that Ward's religious beliefs might have motivated their actions. The appeals "court concluded that if referrals were allowed for a range of reasons, then prohibiting a referral for a religiously based reason raised the specter of discrimination on the basis of religion. Because, in the words of the appeals court, "tolerance is a two-way street" (Ward v. Polite, 2012, p. 9), the school must be as respectful of Ms. Ward's religious beliefs and practices as it required that she be of her clients' values" (Behnke, 2012, p. 18). This case was eventually settled out of court with payment made to Ms. Ward.

Not only are the courts involved in sorting out students' rights and faculty responsibilities, but so are state legislatures. House Bill 2565, University Students' Religious Liberty Act, was introduced and passed by the Arizona House (State of Arizona, 2011). The part of the House Bill that is pertinent to training programs read "A university or community college shall not discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel a client about goals that conflict with the student's sincerely held religious belief or conviction." The Arizona Senate version of the bill was amended to include "if the student consults with the supervising instructor or professor to determine the proper course of action to avoid harm to the client." Bills addressing religious freedoms during training or professional practice have been introduced in other states (Michigan, Missouri and Nebraska). Thus, the legal restraints and requirements for faculty decisions will not be determined solely by the courts, but may also be influenced by state legislatures and the laws they pass.


March 25, 2013

Welcome to the Division 31 Diversity Task Force Blog

Welcome to the first blog posting of the Division 31 Diversity Task Force.

This posting describes the origin of the diversity initiative of the Committee of State Leaders (CSL), which dates back to 1994, when Dr. Ron Fox, then president of APA, worked with the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs (OEMA) to establish a Commission on Ethnic Minority Retention, Recruitment, and Training in Psychology, (CEMRRAT). The Council of Representatives voted to allocate funds to carry out the goals and recommendations of the commission. The commission was headed by Dr. Richard Suinn, who later became president of APA in 1998-1999.
OEMA made several small grants available to state, provincial, and territorial psychological associations (SPTAs) to promote ethnic diversity initiatives. The Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP) provided matching funds. CAPP and OEMA agreed to pool these funds the following year for SPTA leaders to decide how best to use them. The CSL became involved in the process in putting together the current diversity initiative, inviting SPTAs to nominate ethnic minority psychologists for funded participation in the State Leadership Conference. The first delegates came in 2000. Those intimately involved in the initiative during the early stages included Drs. Dan Abrahamson, Allen Carter and Michael Sullivan.
The diversity initiative has had much success in helping diversity delegates become involved in their SPTAs. When Jennifer Kelly became president-elect of Division 31, she wanted to take the initiative to the next level, assisting SPTAs and the diversity delegates to become leaders within their SPTAs, serve on the Executive Committee of their SPTAs and become more active in APA governance. For more information, please read about Div. 31's Diversity Leadership Development Training Program.

Have a blog content suggestion? Please share with Michi Fu, PhD (APA Division 31 Diversity Task Force Member).