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Teaching Subjects or Preaching Doctrine? New Classroom Speech Concerns at Florida Colleges and Universities

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 04, 2022 | 0 Comments

An Inside Higher Ed report summarizes the University of Florida's toe-the-line response to new Florida legislation prohibiting college and university faculty from promoting critical race theory (CRT) to their students. The legislation, threatening to withdraw millions in state funding, and the responses of Florida colleges and universities cautioning their professors to comply with the law to preserve that funding, creates new risks of college or university discipline and dismissal. If you face wrongful termination or disciplinary charges for exercising your academic freedoms or First Amendment free-speech rights, whether as a professor or student, retain national school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to defend and defeat those charges.

The Legislation

Florida's legislature adopted the package of laws effective April 2022. Among those laws, the bill HB 7, also known as the Stop WOKE Act, is the core CRT prohibition. HB 7 prohibits professors from espousing, advancing, or compelling students or employees to believe that people are inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, moral or immoral, privileged or oppressed, guilty for past discrimination by others, or deserving of mistreatment because of their race, color, national origin, or sex. The legislation also prohibits professors from espousing that virtues like merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, and objectivity are racist, sexist, or intended to oppress members of another race, color, national origin, or sex. The laws place state performance funding, substantial public support for many Florida colleges and universities, at risk for school violations.

School Responses

The University of Florida might have staunchly defended professors' rights to free speech and academic freedoms. It didn't. Instead, the university used a slide show to educate its faculty members on the purpose, scope, and details of the new legislation, encouraging compliance. After all, the University of Florida has more state funding at risk, as much as $106 million, than any other Florida college or university. While that toe-the-line approach is sensible from compliance and financial standpoints, professors reasonably object that the legislation both chills speech and creates interpretation hazards. Where is the line between espousing what the legislation's proponents call state-sanctioned racism or merely teaching students critical views among other competing views? Another new Florida law permits students to video or audio record their professor in the classroom to support a complaint. Whatever one thinks of it, Florida's anti-CRT legislation clearly creates new and substantial discipline risks.

School Discipline Defense Attorney Available

If you face disciplinary charges, whether as a professor or student, you need aggressive and effective representation from a qualified school discipline defense attorney. National school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's defense team are available nationwide to defend and defeat disciplinary charges based on free speech or academic freedoms. Attorney Lento has successfully defended hundreds of employees and students at colleges and universities across the country. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now to retain attorney Lento.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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