Students make their way across campus at the commons area of Kennesaw State University on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, in Kennesaw. Curtis Compton/
Photo: Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kennesaw State’s campus speech zones unconstitutional, lawsuit says

A Christian student organization is suing Kennesaw State University, saying its rules for where students can speak and post displays on campus are restrictive and unconstitutional.

The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta on Tuesday against the university on behalf of Ratio Christi, which describes itself as a club that attempts to strengthen the faith of Christian students and evangelizes to non-Christians.

Zachary Bohannon, whom the lawsuit says is a KSU student and board member of the club, said KSU officials have repeatedly rejected the club’s preferred space to post a pro-life display, putting the club on a smaller location on campus, the lawsuit says. KSU officials called the display “controversial,” the club claims. The club contends KSU has allowed other student organizations, such as the Kennesaw Pride Alliance, to use its preferred spaces for events.

“In today’s academic environment, Christian students and educators must not only defend our faith, but we must also defend our right to defend our faith,” said Ratio Christi President and Chief Executive Officer Corey Miller.

The university declined comment Thursday afternoon because it is pending litigation. 

The lawsuit comes as state lawmakers consider a bill drafted by some Senate Republicans that aims to protect guest speakers on Georgia’s public college campuses, such as KSU. The bill’s supporters argue the legislation, Senate Bill 339, is needed because current University System of Georgia speech rules do not offer enough spaces on campus for individuals and groups to speak and many conservative students feel their rights are restricted.

Critics say the legislation is unnecessary and could increase security costs and raise liability.

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