SLF’s Cece O’Leary Joins Heritage Foundation Panel on Campus Speech

WASHINGTON, DC (August 1, 2022):  Southeastern Legal Foundation Attorney and 1A Project Director Cece O’Leary participated in a Heritage Foundation panel about free speech on college campuses. During the conversation, which also featured Cherise Trump of Speech First and Vic Bernson of Young America’s Foundation, O’Leary described several uphill battles college students will face this semester.

One battle includes the fight for Title IX. In the wake of the Biden Administration’s proposed changes to Title IX, college students could face punishment for misgendering other students. Currently, the standard for harassing speech is very high so that colleges cannot punish protected speech. But as O’Leary explained, “Under the current administration’s proposed changes to Title IX, that rule goes out the window.” She warned that under the new rule, a student could be punished for using the wrong pronouns as a form of harassment.

O’Leary described how this change would also affect bringing speakers to campus. “Let’s say you want to have Matt Walsh come onto campus and debate somebody. Under these new changes to Title IX you might not be able to do that because Matt Walsh could be labeled a harassing figure[.]” This is just one of many instances where conservative students will be targeted for their views if the proposed changes to Title IX become law.

As the panel concluded, O’Leary reminded conservative college students who may be feeling outnumbered on campus that “the First Amendment was made for you . . . the Framers very specifically established the Bill of Rights to protect the minority faction from the tyranny of the majority. So the First Amendment is yours to use as both a sword and a shield to defend your rights.”

Watch the panel on C-SPAN.

Download press release.

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