Kentucky lawmakers recently passed legislation that is designed to protect free speech on public university campuses in the state.
According to a report from The College Fix, Kentucky lawmakers recently passed a piece of legislation that will force universities to uphold First Amendment principles. The bill specifically seeks to end “free speech zones,” which are designated areas on campus where students are permitted to engage in activism. As a result of the bill, student activists on public campuses will not be forced to restrict their activities to a designated portion of campus.
“The institution commits to maintaining a marketplace of ideas where the free exchange of ideas is not suppressed because an idea put forth is considered by some or even most of the members of the institution’s community to be offensive, unwise, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, or radical,” the law reads.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education published a report on the legislation, writing that many courts around the country have begun to strike down “free speech zone” policies as unconstitutional.
FIRE Legislative and Policy Director Joe Cohn said argued in a statement that the new law will benefit students of all political backgrounds. “This legislation champions the rights of students across the political spectrum to participate in the quintessential ‘marketplace of ideas’ that campuses of higher education are intended to provide,” Cohn said. “Because HB 254 is now law, students at public institutions throughout Kentucky have a powerful new tool to combat censorship on campus.”
In 2017, Breitbart News reported on a professor at Fresno State University who was ordered to pay a $17,000 fine after he erased pro-life chalk messages from the campus sidewalk. The professor, Gregory Thatcher, told students that the chalk markings were in violation of the campus’ free speech zone policy. Unfortunately, Fresno State University had repealed their “free speech zone” policy in 2015.
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