Latest News and Commentary: National

May 28, 2022
By Howard Fischer
Herald/Review, Sierra Vista Arizona

Excerpt: There’s little doubt but that the shooting earlier this month by a white teen at a Buffalo supermarket was racially motivated. What remains unclear, however, is whether legislation set for Arizona Senate debate as early as this coming week would preclude students in Arizona public schools from being told that the shooter targeted the victims specifically because they happened to be Black.

“I’m not sure whether or not that would be appropriate for classrooms,’’ Rep. Michelle Udall said during debate on HB 1412 last week. But the Mesa Republican said she believes there is enough wiggle room in the language of her bill to allow for discussion — within limits.

May 28, 2022
By Anne Meisenzahl and Roger Peace
Palm Beach Daily News

Excerpt: Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies are issuing edicts and passing laws to prohibit schools from teaching whatever might make a student feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.”  This includes teaching about social justice and fostering social-emotional skills.

This is absurd. It is impossible to teach about American history and culture without teaching about social justice.

May 27, 2022
By Clayton Henkel
NC Policywatch

Excerpt: Members of the Senate Health Care Committee sought to limit debate over the Parents’ Bill of Right Thursday by restricting comments to only the portion of the bill that deals with parental consent for treatment. But even with that narrow focus, more than half a dozen speakers told lawmakers House Bill 755 would be harmful to LGBTQ students, who may not be out to their parents or peers.

The current version of the bill prohibits curriculum that teaches about sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3. The measure also spells out parents’ legal rights to consent or withhold consent from participation in reproductive health and safety education programs.

May 27, 2022
By Jonathan Turley

Excerpt: There was an interesting contrast this week in the attitude toward free speech values at Boston University with two controversies involving figures at opposing ends of the political spectrum. In one case, a professor defended looting and other crimes as forms of racial justice. In the other case, a speaker was hosted to speak about conservative values deemed anti-LGBTQ. One of the speakers was the subject of a student government resolution declaring him to be a danger to students and rejecting free speech rights for him to be heard by others on campus.  Can you guess which one?

May 24, 2022
By Sabrina Conza
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: After originally denying recognition to a College Republicans chapter based on its president’s social media posts, Eckerd College’s student senate granted the chapter recognition on May 13. This victory came one day after FIRE sent a letter to the college explaining that its student government may not violate the strong promises of free expression that Eckerd makes to its students.

As FIRE previously reported, Tony Salvatori, president of the College Republicans, applied for the group’s recognition in February. However, the Eckerd College Organization of Students denied recognition to the College Republicans, citing posts some deemed offensive on Salvatori’s Instagram account, @ecconservatives.

May 23, 2022
By Steven Walker
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Excerpt: In Florida, it's hard having curly hair.

During Pine View School's graduation ceremony Sunday, Zander Moricz spoke about his experiences and activism as Pine View School's first openly gay class president, but in his commencement address, he never said he was gay. Instead, he used his curly hair as a euphemism for his sexual orientation. Moricz said the decision to censor his speech was "dehumanizing," but he didn't want to risk ruining the ceremony for his fellow students.

May 23, 2022
By Associated Press

Excerpt: A private Christian university is considering strictly limiting the free speech rights of its students when it comes to sexuality and gender, from how they behave to what they wear and what they can say on campus or even online, according to published reports.

If approved, the policy presented to faculty and staff at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, this month would not allow students to identify as anything other than their biological sex. They also would be forbidden from questioning these restrictions or any other university policy, according to a leaked draft.

May 20, 2022
By Molly Minta
Mississippi Today

Excerpt: A pair of letters sent earlier this month by the Institutions of Higher Learning commissioner shed light on the recent controversial policy changes that faculty fear will make it harder to get and keep tenure at Mississippi universities.

In the letters, Commissioner Alfred Rankins addressed concerns that the new standards IHL added to its tenure policies, like “collegiality,” could be used by university presidents to discriminate against politically outspoken faculty or faculty members of color. “There is no prior evidence to suggest these terms have quashed academic freedom or faculty individual rights within our system of universities,” Rankins wrote. “In reviewing your concerns, I must point out that almost any criterion commonly used in evaluating faculty for tenure could be used by a bad actor as a pretext for denying tenure for impermissible reasons.”

May 20, 2022
By David Frum
The Atlantic

Excerpt: For more than three months now, Georgetown University has pondered whether to discipline a staff member whose words offended a number of students and faculty. The university’s written policy on free speech pointed to one answer: No. Georgetown’s protections for free-speech policy are very broad; on April 26, for example, its law school hosted a Palestinian activist who has appropriated Holocaust history to condemn Israel for “Kristallnachting” Palestinians. So that’s in bounds at Georgetown Law.

At the same time, the offended students and faculty are still riled up, and people do not rise through the ranks of university management by brave defiance of local opinion. So perhaps it’s natural that Georgetown has decided to … dither.

May 19, 2022
By Danielle Lama
Fox 35 Orlando

Excerpt:  Controversial University of Central Florida professor Charles Negy has his job back. He was fired in January 2021, but after filing a grievance against the university, an arbitrator reinstated him. "I want to go back. I want to make a stand for free speech, academic freedom," Dr. Negy told FOX 35 News. "They fired a tenured professor… me. They cut me off from my income right away which they cannot do, unless there is some justified reason."

Negy’s Tweet said: "Sincere question: if Afr. Americans as a group, had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans (on average, performing the best academically, having the highest income, committing the lowest crime, etc.), would we still be proclaiming "systematic racism" exists?"