Bill requires free speech on campus for all

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Bill requires free speech on campus for all

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HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
April 11, 2015 Athens - The University of Georgia campus in Athens on Saturday, April 11, 2015. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Georgia’s colleges and universities would be required to expand areas designated for free speech under legislation filed in the state House on Thursday. 

House Bill 471, by Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, says public colleges and universities may not “limit or restrict a student’s expression” or discipline a student because others oppose the student’s speech.

“Any member of the university community who wishes to engage in expressive activity shall be permitted to do so,” the bill says, in any “generally accessible outdoor areas of campuses.”

But the bill also says schools may not deny a group of students the right to form an organization or “discriminate against a student organization based on the expression of the organization.”

Brockway said the bill includes protections for schools to combat harassment or bullying and from organizations like the KKK from forming on campuses. 

The University of Georgia recently settled a free-speech lawsuit and Georgia Gwinnett College is currently being sued over “similar attempts to limit students’ free speech,” Brockway said. 

“They have these tiny ‘free speech zones,’ that gives a ‘hecklers veto’” to anyone who opposes what is being said, Brockway said. 

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