After this interview, Mr. Ford was shocked at the prospect that he could be removed from the program because of his religious beliefs. So, later on April 14, 2004, Mr. Ford called Professor Trepper. During the conversation, Trepper again said: “I am going to have to talk with the faculty about this. I am not sure whether you can be in the program.”
Mr. Ford then contacted members of the American Association for Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists. Shortly thereafter, he contacted Mr. Larry Crenshaw, a social worker in the Humanitarian and Welfare Office of theLDS Church. Mr. Ford explained that he did not want to compromise his religious values to obtain a degree. Mr. Crenshaw also referred Mr. Ford to Dr. Byrd (featured in Part I of this series). After obtaining advice from Dr. Byrd, Mr. Ford met again with Professor Trepper to reiterate his position regarding therapy that advocates homosexual behavior. Not only did Trepper disagree with Mr. Ford, but he also said: “You are being racist, prejudice, and discriminative[sic].” When Mr. Ford asked how this would affect his standing in the program, Trepper commented: “I don’t know.”
Again following Dr. Byrd’s advice, Mr. Ford met with each program faculty member. He summarized his interaction with Professor Trepper, and each faculty member accepted his account without objection or correction. Professor Hecker responded by noting that Mr. Ford stood on solid ethical ground in removing himself from cases that involve therapy advocating homosexual behavior. She even noted that Trepper had “stepped over the line” in his reaction to Ford.
Professor Wetchler responded differently to Mr. Ford’s account. He said that Mr. Ford had become over anxious and had not handled the situation correctly. He then suggested to Mr. Ford some ways to decrease anxiety when facing “discrimination.” Wetchler also advised Mr. Ford to contact several professors in the LDS Church who taught that LDS therapists should conduct sex therapy for same sex couples. These professors also taught that LDS members should support homosexual behavior.
On July 7, 2004, Mr. Ford met with Professor Wetchler to discuss possible thesis topics. During the meeting, he proposed several topics, one of which was same-sex parenting. Wetchler became visibly agitated with this idea. When he saw this, Mr. Ford stated that he felt as if Wetchler was not allowing him to explore his options fully and that other faculty members thought this was a viable and reasonable research topic. When Wetchler heard this, he immediately ended the meeting saying: “Jeff, if you did this, it would be professional suicide.”
At least two other students were allowed to research thesis topics related to homosexual conduct. Their theses advocated this conduct and treated it as a positive good for individuals and society. The program faculty approved both topics.
Mr. Ford, because of his Mormon faith, would have to choose another topic. And his troubles were far from over.