Virginia free speech bill tackles campus speech codes

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • H.B. 258 proposes prohibiting state institutions of higher education from implementing restrictions on speech.
  • Bill sponsored by Delegate Lingamfelter and moved to House Sub-Committee on Higher Education last Friday.
  • A bill in the Virginia legislature which would eliminate restrictions on free speech in public areas at state institutions of higher education was assigned to committee last Friday, Campus Reform has learned.

    Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31) is the sponsor for House Bill 258 titled “Higher educational institutions; restrictions on student speech, limitations,” which has been assigned to the House Sub-Committee on Higher Education.

    The text of the bill reads that it “Prohibits public institutions of higher education from imposing restrictions on the time, place, and manner of student speech that occurs in the outdoor areas of the institution’s campus[.]”

    The text of the bill reads that it “Prohibits public institutions of higher education from imposing restrictions on the time, place, and manner of student speech that occurs in the outdoor areas of the institution’s campus[.]”   

    The bill makes four exceptions for restrictions that are “reasonable,” “justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech,” “narrowly defined to serve a significant government interest,” and “leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.”

    Representatives from Lingamfelter’s office did not return a call for comment in time for publication.

    George Mason University undergraduate and political commentator John Hill praised the bill in blog post earlier today on the conservative blog Bearing Drift.

    In an interview with Campus Reform, Hill said he sees the bill as “great step for free speech on campuses in Virginia.”

    “Our speech code, school policies, and administrators aren't perfect which is whyI think HB 258 would be a great step to protecting my right to free speech on campus and prevent future issues,” said Hill. “Virginia can't go wrong passing a bill that strengthens the free speech rights of its people.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @TimPDion