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Ohio Bans Campus Free Speech Zones and Enhances Protections for Other Forms of Expression

Ohio Bans Campus Free Speech Zones and Enhances Protections for Other Forms of Expression

“College students deserve to know that the free exchange of ideas will not be inhibited by campus authorities”

Every Republican controlled state should do this. Draw a clear distinction on who supports free speech.

The FIRE blog reports:

Ohio bans restrictive college free speech zones, enhances protections for student expression

On Friday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law SB 40, which codifies important free speech protections for students at Ohio’s public colleges and universities. The bill:

– Prohibits Ohio public institutions of higher education from quarantining student expression into small, misleadingly labeled “free speech zones” and establishes outdoor areas of campus as public forums for campus communities;

– Adopts the speech-protective definition of student-on-student harassment set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States’ holding in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, which defined student-on-student harassment as conduct that is “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” that it effectively bars a student-victim from receiving equal access to educational opportunities or benefits; and

– Prevents colleges from charging security fees to students and student organizations based on the content of their expression or the anticipated reaction to an invited guest’s speech.

“College students deserve to know that the free exchange of ideas will not be inhibited by campus authorities,” said Tyler Coward, legislative counsel at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a campus civil liberties organization. “FIRE commends the Ohio legislature and Gov. DeWine for ensuring that campus speech rights will be robustly protected in the state.”

SB 40 was sponsored by Sens. Andrew Brenner and Rob McColley. It initially passed the Senate unanimously and earned bipartisan support in the House.

With SB 40’s passage, Ohio joins Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia as the 18th state to pass legislation banning public colleges and universities from relegating student expression to so-called “free speech zones.”

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