College and university students and employees don't give up their free speech, freedom of religion, and other liberty rights simply because they are on campus. Some students may seek so-called safe places where others cannot challenge their thinking with views that they deem offensive. And according to a nonprofit spotlight on campus free speech, campuses are often willing to adopt and enforce speech codes and related discipline policies to silence views that transgress student sensitivities and viewpoint orthodoxies. But a state university's $400,000 settlement paying a professor for violating the professor's free speech rights reaffirms that First Amendment rights still apply on public college and university campuses. If your college or university is threatening your free speech rights with student discipline or employment termination, retain national student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to defend and preserve your rights.
According to reports of that $400,000 case, the Ohio public school Shawnee State University reprimanded its professor for refusing on religious grounds to call a transgender student by the student's preferred pronoun. The professor had offered to use only the student's name to avoid offense while preserving the professor's religious freedom and free speech rights to call a man a man rather than a woman. School officials treated the professor's refusal as a violation of the school's Title IX sexual misconduct policy against sexual harassment, reprimanding the professor. After three years of litigation over the issue, a federal appellate court ruled that the university had violated the professor's rights. The settlement followed about a year later, acknowledging the professor's right to use pronouns consistent with a student's biological rather than identified sex.
Enforcing Freedom Rights
The above case confirms that public schools in particular owe their students and employees First Amendment free speech, freedom of association, and religious freedom rights. Federal laws like 42 USC Section 1983 support private civil actions against government actors, including public colleges and universities, to enforce those and other constitutional rights. Other laws may provide similar remedies against private schools, especially schools receiving federal funding. The above case also confirms that suing a college or university to preserve liberty rights isn't easy. Three or four years is a long time to litigate to preserve education or employment rights. But colleges and universities typically offer administrative procedures that students and employees can invoke to challenge unlawful interference with public rights.
Attorney Representation for Liberty Rights Nationwide
Invoking school procedures to challenge unlawful school actions or litigating with your school when it refuses to respect your liberty rights, requires skilled representation by an experienced academic administrative attorney. Don't hire an unqualified local criminal defense lawyer or civil litigator if you face a liberty dispute with your college or university. Instead, retain national student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm for your aggressive and effective representation. Attorney Lento has successfully represented hundreds of students and employees nationwide in college and university dispute resolution. Call 888-535-3686 for a consultation now or use the online service.