Ohio House Passes FORUM Act to Protect Free Speech for All College Students
COLUMBUS – The Ohio House just passed Senate Bill 40 in a 65-27 vote. Also known as the FORUM (Forming Open and Robust University Minds) Act and sponsored by Senators Andrew Brenner and Rob McColley, this important legislation will protect free speech for all college students on Ohio’s 14 public university campuses, 24 public regional branch campuses, and 23 public community colleges.
The bill is in response to a number of lawsuits that have arisen on Ohio’s college campuses over the years due to unconstitutional speech policies.
“At a time when division in our nation is at an all-time high, it is essential that our university campuses remain a place where open, honest, and tough discussions can still happen,” said Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values. “The FORUM Act creates a level playing field on college campuses for ideas, so pro-life, Christian, and conservative students are not discriminated against because of their worldview.”
The FORUM Act has four major components:
- Protects peaceful assemblies, protests, speakers, and displays on campus.
- Prohibits “Free Speech Zones” on college campuses.
- Prohibits shutting down events or other expression via a “Heckler’s Veto.”
- Requires colleges and universities to have a free speech policy, and report violations of free speech on campus to the General Assembly.
Fourteen other states have passed similar legislation, and this approach has proven to be one that protects free speech for students, does not create any additional costs to universities, and helps states avoid further costly litigation.
Unanimously passed out of the Senate earlier this year, SB 40 heads back to the Senate for a final concurrence vote before it can be sent to Governor DeWine.
As Ohio’s Family Policy Council, Citizens for Community Values seeks the good of our neighbors throughout Ohio by advocating for public policy that reflects the truth of the Gospel. We endeavor to create an Ohio where God’s blessings of life, family, and religious freedom are treasured, respected, and protected.