Ohio Senate Passes FORUM Act to Protect Free Speech for All College Students; Now Heads to Governor

COLUMBUS – Passed yesterday by the Ohio House, the Ohio Senate just passed Senate Bill 40 in a 23–9 final concurrence 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.

“This bill comes at a critical time for students on Ohio campuses. As we see cancel culture grow, it’s more important than ever before for students to have a level playing field,” said Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values. “The FORUM Act creates that level playing field on college campuses for ideas, so pro-life, Christian, conservative, and all students cannot be discriminated against because of their worldviews.

“Thank you to bill sponsors Senator Rob McColley and Senator Andy Brenner, along with Rep. Niraj Antani, Rep. Candice Keller, Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Larry Obhof for their strong leadership in moving this crucial legislation.”

The FORUM Act (SB 40) now heads to Governor DeWine. He can sign it into law within 10 days, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature in 10 days.

“I encourage Governor DeWine to continue to stand against discrimination and promote free speech for all Ohio college students by signing the FORUM Act.”

Call Governor DeWine at (614) 466-3555 and tell him to protect free speech on campuses by signing the FORUM Act!

The FORUM Act has four major components:

  1. Protects peaceful assemblies, protests, speakers, and displays on campus.
  2. Prohibits “Free Speech Zones” on college campuses.
  3. Prohibits shutting down events or other expression via a “Heckler’s Veto.”
  4. 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.

For more information, contact CCV at 513-733-5775 or [email protected].

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.

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