News and Commentary

Campus Free Speech Office for Civil Rights Sexual Harassment Title IX

Free Speech May Be Imperiled by Upcoming Title IX Policy; Lawmakers Urged to Speak Out

Sharing is caring!


Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Free Speech May Be Imperiled by Upcoming Title IX Policy; Lawmakers Urged to Speak Out

WASHINGTON / May 31, 2022 – First Amendment free speech protections currently hang in the balance, affected by a variety of social cross-currents and political agendas. SAVE urges Republican and Democratic lawmakers to speak out forcefully to restore free speech in colleges and universities across the nation.

National leaders such as Bill Maher and Elon Musk have called for an end to restrictive speech codes (1). Netflix recently instructed its employees to be tolerant of viewpoint diversity, or seek employment elsewhere (2). And 84% of college students say free speech rights are extremely or very important, according to a Knight/Ipsos poll (3).

Several recent developments proffer hope to proponents of campus free speech:

  1. Earlier this month, Georgia enacted a law to strengthen campus free speech, including a provision designed to thwart the establishment of so-called “free speech zones.” (4)
  2. Last week a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the University of Houston, saying the school’s definition of harassment was unduly broad and served to constrict free speech (5).
  3. Positive developments in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Florida have been reported (6).

But two worrisome trends foretell growing restrictions on free speech:

  1. School Title IX policies often include a requirement that transgenders be referred to by their preferred pronouns. In a recent Wisconsin case, a boy was charged with Title IX sexual harassment for not referring to a female classmate as “they” or “them” (7). Forced speech is a violation of free speech.
  2. At the University of Washington, new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) standards for faculty tenure decisions are causing faculty members to be “afraid to speak out, say what they really think.” (8)

Recently a coalition of 88 groups announced its opposition to the plan of the U.S. Department of Education to release a new Title IX regulation (9).  One of the concerns of coalition members focused on how the new Title IX policy would be used to stultify free speech.

SAVE urges lawmakers to speak out to assure the upcoming Title IX regulation protects and enhances constitutional free speech guarantees. Contact Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, telephone (202) 401-3000; fax (202) 260-7867; email