Friday, April 18, 2014

Virginia College Lifts Muzzle on Christian Speech

After a Christian student sued Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, VA, the college was advised that their limits on free speech would be found unconstitutional.  The all-too-common "free-speech zone" policy on college campuses usually require an approved permit to speak, and then only in a tiny, specific restricted area.

For background, read Christian Free Speech Censored at Ohio College and also read Ohio College Nixed Christian Speech, Pays Settlement as well as Prayer Win in Lawsuit Against California College

UPDATE 9/9/14: Read of myriad colleges and universities banning Christian clubs from campus and generally discriminating against Christians.

In addition, read of the visceral reaction by professors to Christians' free speech.

-- From "Community colleges get new free-speech policy" by Karin Kapsidelis, Richmond Times-Dispatch 4/16/14

The State Board for Community Colleges on Tuesday altered a 1960s-era policy restricting student speech that had been challenged as unconstitutional in federal court and was out of compliance with a new state law.

Christian Parks, who describes himself as an evangelical Christian, said campus police ordered him to stop preaching in a courtyard last year because the content of his speech might be offensive to other students.

Greer Saunders, assistant attorney general representing VCCS, told the committee the policy changes track requirements of legislation adopted by the General Assembly this session and signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The legislation, sponsored by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R- Prince William, prohibits public institutions of higher education from imposing restrictions on the time, place and manner of student speech occurring in the outdoor areas of campus.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Virginia college 'free-speech zones' latest to fall" by The Associated Press 4/12/14

Over the last dozen years, several similar policies establishing restrictive speech zones at public colleges have been invalidated by courts or changed by officials to settle lawsuits alleging violation of students' First Amendment rights.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says about six in 10 colleges nationwide have policies that violate First Amendment rights -- and about one in six impose "free speech zones" like the policy at issue in the Virginia case -- even though such restrictions rarely survive constitutional challenges.

Free-speech advocates find it troubling that, despite the court rulings, many public colleges persist in squelching student expression.

Ryan Douglas of Yorktown, vice president of the Student Government Association at Thomas Nelson, said he witnessed one of Parks' encounters with police. Douglas, 28, said Parks wasn't being disruptive. He had no quarrel with the officer's actions but said the policy he was enforcing went too far and needed to be changed.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Va. College Changes 'Free Speech Zone' Rules After Evangelical Student Files Lawsuit" by Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter 4/16/14

Parks was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom of Scottsdale, Ariz. David Hacker, ADF senior legal counsel, stated that free speech is an important component of collegiate life.

"Free, spontaneous discourse on college campuses is supposed to be a hallmark of higher education rather than the exception to the rule," said Hacker.

Parks also had the support of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which dubbed the treatment of Parks by Thomas Nelson as "absurd and unconstitutional."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Contrast this with Canadian campuses where Christians were arrested this week for speaking in public.

Also read Obama Administration Muzzles College Students' Moral Speech