University’s plan to force use of preferred first names ‘opens the door for a culture of censorship,’ free speech expert warns

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TOLEDO, OH – A proposed policy at the University of Toledo in Ohio seeks to force students, staff and employees to refer to others by their “chosen” name, a policy that a free speech expert warned could lead to more censorship in an area of society that is already heavily policed for “unacceptable” speech.

The policy, called Inclusive Gender Practices, noted its reasoning:

“In addition to validating and affirming personal identities, self-identification allows us to better understand our campus population.”

A copy of the policy, which appears to no longer be available online, states:

“An individual’s Chosen First Name must be used by all UToledo students, staff, and faculty in all communications. In instances where legal name is required within University Systems, including official transcripts, tax forms, payroll, and financial aid, the individual’s Chosen First Name must still be used in verbal communication.”

The policy was written by the university’s vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion and states that all students, faculty, and staff “must” call others by their “chosen first name” in “all communications.” The proposal states:

“An individual’s Chosen First Name must be used by all UToledo students, staff, and faculty in all communications. The University of Toledo recognizes the importance of students, faculty, and staff being able to use names other than their legal names to identify themselves for a variety of reasons.”

But Cherise Trump, executive director of Speech First, warned that such policies could be a harbinger for increased censorship of thought and speech. Trump explained:

“We often see attempts on campuses to compel speech under the guise of ‘inclusion.’ Policies like these can put students in situations where they no longer feel they are able to speak freely. This type of policy opens the door for a culture of censorship.”

An unidentified spokesperson for the University of Toledo did not address whether there would be any punishment for those who accidentally or purposely fail to call others by their chosen first name, but said the policy is being proposed to “respect and affirm the identity of all University of Toledo community members.”

The spokesperson added:

“The Inclusive Gender Practices policy has been proposed to respect and affirm the identity of all University of Toledo community members in accordance with our commitment to fostering an environment of inclusivity. It is aligned with the University’s LGBTQA+ Strategic Plan.

At this time the proposed policy is posted for comment. We will review the comments received and the draft policy could change based on the input received.”

University's plan to force use of preferred first names 'opens the door for a culture of censorship,' free speech expert warns
University of Toledo Facebook

According to the office of the registrar, the University of Toledo already permits members to indicate a preferred first name in its systems, such as course rosters, Blackboard, myUT portal, university email name and eDirectory. According to the website:

“These systems can now synchronize and share your preferred first name. Additionally, you may use a preferred first name on your diploma when you graduate from The University of Toledo.”

College campuses are already the site of instances of student- or faculty-led censorship of conservative speakers and organizations, and the censorial mindset appears to be getting more pervasive.

According to a Knight Foundation-Ipsos poll, conservative college students nationwide felt free speech protections on their campuses are disappearing. The poll showed students’ view that free speech is protected had sunk 25% since 2019, Breitbart News reported in January. The media outlet reported:

“Indeed, the poll also revealed an 11 percent overall increase (54 percent to 65 percent) in the perception that the college campus climate ‘stifles free expression’ from 2016 to 2021.”

https://fundourpolice.com/

 

Triggered by conservative speaker, Yale Law students yell ‘I will literally fight you, b—h’ during bipartisan panel

March 19, 2022

NEW HAVEN, CT – Students at Yale Law School verbally attacked campus speakers discussing bipartisan issues – and now people are outraged.  Officials say 120 law students broke up the event by waving signs and yelling.

Kristen Waggoner from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Monica Miller with the progressive American Humanist Association were on campus to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the Federalist Society.

The event set to take place on March 10 was an attempt to examine how a liberal atheist and a conservative Christian could coexist and have mutual understanding on free speech.

According to the Yale Federalist Society website,

“The Federalist Society at Yale Law School is committed to encouraging open and honest debate on the fundamental legal issues of our day.

We provide a wide range of programs open to our members and to the Yale Law School community, including speakers, debates, and social events.”

However, the Yale Law students were not in agreement with the Federalist Society’s policies or the speakers in attendance.

The panel discussion was meant to lead a peaceful exchange regarding the Supreme Court case, Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski.

The case involved a Georgia Gwinnett College student, Chike Uzuegbunam, who claimed he was prevented from expressing his faith and sharing information about Christianity.

Uzuegbunam was stopped by campus police in 2016 from sharing his faith. He was told to apply for a reservation to speak on a designated “speech zone” on campus.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote,

“But when Uzuegbunam obtained the required permit and tried to speak in a free speech zone, a campus police officer again asked him to stop, this time saying that people had complained about his speech. 

Campus policy at that time prohibited using the free speech zone to say anything that “disturbs the peace and/or comfort of person(s).”

The officer told Uzuegbunam that his speech violated campus policy because it had led to complaints, and the officer threatened Uzuegbunam with disciplinary action if he continued.”

The moderator of the panel, Professor Kate Stith, had to pause the discussion due to one student shouting, “I will literally fight you, b—-!”

The professor was captured in a video scolding the law student saying, “Come on, grow up. “… you’re disrupting the free speech here.

The students yelled back, responding that they had the right to interrupt the panel discussion.

According to the Yale University policy of free expression,

“When Yale or its members host outside speakers, they are also generally free to express their views, even if unpopular or controversial.

Dissenting members of the community may protest and express disagreement, but they may not interfere with a speaker’s ability to speak or attendees’ ability to attend, listen and hear.”

Ellen Cosgrove, Yale Law School Associate Dean, who was present during the event, did not intervene regardless of the violation of school policies that was taking place.

Police escorted the speakers safely out of the building.

Yale Daily News reported that a letter was signed by students stating,

“Understandably, a large swath of [Yale Law School] students felt that [the Federalist Society’s] decision to lend legitimacy to this hate group by inviting its general counsel to speak at [Yale Law School] profoundly undermined our community’s values of equity and inclusivity at a time when LGBTQ youth are actively under attack in Texas, Florida, and other states,” 

… Even with all of the privilege afforded to us at YLS, the decision to allow police officers in as a response to the protest put YLS’ queer student body at risk of harm.”

A letter was then sent to the Yale deans regarding the students upset at the police presence saying,

“We urge YLS to change any policies or practices that invite police officers onto our campus in response to peaceful student protests.

We also ask that the administration, in collaboration with students, work to build explicit policy that such a response is unwarranted, regardless of who summons police officers.”

One of the speakers, Waggoner remarked to the Yale Daily News,

 “Future lawyers should have the critical thinking skills, intellectual curiosity, humility, and maturity to engage with ideas and legal principles that they may disagree with.”

“Unfortunately, some students who attended the Federalist Society event refused to allow others to speak and acted in an aggressive and hostile manner towards me, Professor Kate Stith, and Monica Miller from the American Humanist Association.”

In response to these events, Judge Lawrence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in an email to his colleagues that,

“The latest events at Yale Law School, in which students attempted to shout down speakers participating in a panel discussion on free speech, prompt me to suggest that students who are identified as those willing to disrupt any such panel discussion should be noted.”

While Yale Law students chanted “This is free speech,” they failed to remember that free speech means free speech for all.

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