VICTORY: Miami University Backs Down From Trigger Warning Rule
“This is a victory for the free speech rights of students, who should not be told that their support of mothers and their preborn children is some kind of shameful act that should be apologized for or vilified as harmful,” said SFLA’s Kristan Hawkins.
CINCINNATI, OH, and FREDERICKSBURG, VA (03-16-18) – Pro-life speech at the Miami University of Ohio will no longer be tainted by some kind of required “trigger warning” as a result of a settlement reached with school officials, announced
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins. In October of 2017, school officials told members of the campus Students for Life club that they were required to post “warning” in front of their display of 300 crosses, which would represent roughly 1 cross for every 1000 babies killed by Planned Parenthood last year. Students for Life of America partnered with the Alliance Defending Freedom who filed a federal lawsuit regarding the discriminatory policies. “This is a victory for the free speech rights of students, who should not be told that their support of mothers and their preborn children is some kind of shameful act that should be apologized for or vilified as harmful,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “We appreciate the work of Alliance Defending Freedom, and especially love the commitment of our student leaders who courageously advocate for life, no matter the obstacles.”
Students for Life at Miami University of Ohio at Hamilton v. Trustees of Miami University of Ohio was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio related to an incident in the fall. At that time, school officials said that they would allow a peaceful display of the Cemetery of the Innocents only if warning signs were placed around the campus. SFLA student groups often build a Cemetery of the Innocents display of crosses or tombstones on college campuses, representing lives lost to abortion. In this case, school officials wanted to characterize the students’ free speech display as a triggering event that should be negatively portrayed to the student body with signs.
ADF reported that “under the settlement agreement, Miami University of Ohio has disavowed one policy officials used to impose the warning sign requirement, a policy that also created a complex, burdensome permit system for speech activities. It agreed to revise a second policy used to justify the warning signs so that other student groups will not face similar mistreatment. And it agreed to revise a third policy so officials cannot stifle speech simply because it could ‘cause alarm, annoyance, or nuisance.’ The university has also agreed to pay Students for Life’s damages and attorneys’ fees.”
“We commend the university for quickly recognizing that its officials do not have the authority to censor student speech simply because of how someone might respond to it,” said ADF Legal Counsel Travis Barham. “By revising its policies to respect students’ constitutionally protected rights, the university has fostered the marketplace of ideas that public universities are supposed to be. After all, the only permission slip students need to speak on campus is the First Amendment, and they cannot be forced to post ‘trigger warning’ signs simply to share their ideas.”
“A tragic national trend in violations of student free speech rights is developing nationwide,” said Hawkins. “But our courageous student leaders show everyday that they care more about preborn infants and women than with an easy college experience by continuing to speak up for life, no matter what.”
Click here to review a national map of violations of students’ free speech rights.
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Students for Life of America is the nation’s largest pro-life youth organization. Headquartered in Fredericksburg, VA, Students for Life has more than 1,200 groups on college and high school campuses located in all fifty states.