ACLU of Kentucky Cautions Against So-Called "Student Expression" Bill

February 12, 2015 4:32 pm

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Unnecessary bill would cause confusion, likely result in costly litigation

February 12, 2015

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FRANKFORT, KY – The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky urges caution against passing SB71 — legislation filed in Kentucky’s Senate purportedly to protect “student expression” concerning religious and political topics.

In explaining the ACLU’s position, ACLU Program Director Derek Selznick stated, “While perhaps well-intentioned, SB71 is an unnecessary attempt to overregulate in an area already protected by the First Amendment — students’ voluntary ability to pray and express religious viewpoints in a non-disruptive manner while in school.” Selznick added, “By adding more government regulation into the area of students’ free speech rights, the bill will result in needless and costly litigation, particularly over students’ ability to interject religious or political views into school assignments that have nothing to do with either.”

In addition to being unnecessary, the ACLU of Kentucky also opposes the bill because it would prohibit Kentucky’s local boards of education and public universities from denying funding to student organizations that discriminate against members based on sexual orientation or religion. “Under the First Amendment, students have the right to form clubs and organizations that deny membership based on certain characteristics. However, a group’s right to select its members does not include the right to government sponsorship or funding for such activities,” said Selznick.

The ACLU of Kentucky has a long, proud history of vigorously defending religious freedom. The organization opposes all attempts to misuse religious freedom to restrict others’ fundamental rights.

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