Free speech: Conservatives challenge Title IX revisions

The Biden administration’s proposed update of Title IX makes it easier for those subjected to sexual harassment to report the incidents and dropped in-person hearings and cross-examinations. Conservatives are concerned that the new procedures would damage due process and limit free speech rights. (Inside Higher Ed, June 24, 2022, by Meghan Brink)

Cherise Trump in The American Conservative, July 5, 2022, says that the proposals would result in enabling universities to restrict and compel student speech more than ever. “If universities follow these guidelines,” she writes, “students’ First Amendment rights will be jettisoned, rigorous debate will perish, and students’ tuition dollars will be diverted to litigate the free speech issues that will surely arise.”

In a June 23, 2022 press release, FIRE claims that the proposals jeopardize student free speech in adopting a definition of sexual harassment different from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1999 definition as behavior “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and detracts from the victims’ educational experience, that the victim-students are effectively denied equal access to an institution’s resources and opportunities.” The new definition covers a wider range of misconduct and requires schools to address behavior that creates a “hostile environment.”

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