GUEST POST: In order to protect the preborn, we need to be able to speak up for them — but at Lorain County Community College (LCCC), our First Amendment rights are being taken away by our school administration. There have been multiple questionable instances of censorship, but we are fighting back in order to preserve our free speech rights after being silenced explicitly. Here’s what happened:
It began in April 2023 when our amazing Students for Life of America (SFLA) Ohio Regional Coordinator Jamie Scherdin helped us set up a Cemetery of the Innocents display on campus. This was my group’s first official event so we were all very excited — but the Student Life Office didn’t feel the same way.
We were micro-managed. Their office wanted pictures of the exact crosses being put into the ground and wanted to know if they were stake shaped on the bottom or flat; if we were hammering them in or pushing them into the ground. After all this back-and-forth, they even decided not to let us put them in the ground at all! We had to lay the crosses down on the grass, really losing the ‘cemetery’ effect, and causing our event to have less of an impact.
Several weeks ago, I sent in a request for permission to table with Scherdin on campus for SFLA’s Ohio-exclusive Abortion On The Ballot Fall Tour, which is very important due to the critical ballot initiative, Issue 1, coming up. I was taken into a room by the Manager of Student Life and asked, “You’re not actually telling people to vote ‘no’ right? You are just educating them?”
I replied, “Yes, of course, we are educating them; educating them on the realities of this election. Everyone is being lied to by the abortion industry and deserves to know the truth. And yes, we are encouraging them to vote ‘no.’”
She told me that she wanted to see all the fliers and everything that we would have on the table so that she could approve them, saying: “We already got complaints when you tabled for recruitment, and we know we’ll get more; we just want to keep that to a minimum.”
We were eventually approved.
The two most recent issues that we are dealing with now is that we don’t have permission to chalk on campus without their explicit approval or hang our own fliers. We were told that the Student Life office doesn’t “want anyone to be offended or upset” by our chalk drawings or messages so they must approve every one prior. With fliers, they said only their office is allowed to hang up our posters, not us, and they’ll only do it once a week.
This is problematic because I’ve seen a girl hanging her group’s fliers, and when I asked her about it, she said, “Oh, some clubs are allowed to hang their fliers, and some aren’t. I don’t know why. It’s so weird.” That is discriminatory.
Additionally, when our fliers get torn down (which unfortunately happens a lot), we’re not even allowed to replace them. We must wait until the next week for the Student Life Office to do it, hurting our student outreach.
This discrimination has not been easy to deal with, but that is why my group got SFLA’s legal counsel involved. Together, we have sent a demand letter to the school, reminding them of our free speech rights and calling on them to stop the censorship. For updates on this situation, stay tuned to the SFLA blog.
In the meantime, our group is staying strong and pushing through. We will continue to fight for the right to verbalize our love and support for the preborn babies and vulnerable women who need us. We know we’ll overcome and be able to reach our campus with the truth!
EDITORS NOTE: Through help from SFLA’s legal team, this free speech issue has been resolved. Another victory for pro-life speech!
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