Commentary: FIRE brief asks Eleventh Circuit to keep K-12 speech standards off college campuses

Will Creeley
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: Common sense tells us that when it comes to rules, there’s a big difference between the grade school playground and the public university campus. Conduct codes appropriate for high school freshmen — let alone fifth graders — might not fly for college freshmen. So why should courts impose speech standards designed for grade schoolers on public college students? Well, they shouldn’t, as FIRE argued in an amicus curiae brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit last week.

In a lawsuit filed this February, Speech First challenged the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) discriminatory harassment policy, computer policy, and bias response team. In its July order, the district court correctly issued a preliminary injunction preventing UCF from enforcing its wildly unconstitutional computer policy, which broadly barred students from sending “harassing or hate messages.” But the district court’s analysis of UCF’s harassment policy then veered sharply off course.