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Relating to the protection of expressive activities at public institutions of higher education.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 2100 would require all institutions of higher education to protect the constitutionally guaranteed expressive rights of all persons and student organizations lawfully present on their campus. Institutions would be required to consider all outdoor common areas of the campus to be traditional public forums and allow all expressive activities that are not unlawful or disrupt the functioning of the institution. Institutions would be allowed to place reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner of the expressive activities.
Additionally, institutions would be required to create and make publicly available policies that detail the rights of students and employees regarding expressive activities, including disciplinary actions that could be taken against students, student organizations that interfere with the expressive rights of others on campus and a grievance procedure for complaints, and prohibiting an employee or the institution from punishing a student or employee for expressive activities. This bill would also require institutions to consider only content-neutral and view-point neutral criteria when approving for a speaker to come on campus and not the controversy of the event or the anticipated attendance of people not attending.
Texas Action recommends supporting HB 2100 because it promotes our principles of limited government and individual liberty. This bill would codify free speech protections for every public college and university and eliminate restrictive "free speech zones." Free speech is a core constitutional right which should not be restricted to particular zones and which should only be inhibited in narrowly limited situations. Institutions of higher education have become well-known in recent years for their general hostility toward free speech, especially speech that is deemed unpopular or politically incorrect. The very essence and purpose of the First Amendment is to protect speech that is unpopular with people in positions of power. We heartily support this excellent legislation.