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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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Conservative students suing UH System for anti-harassment policy


students suing

Three students are suing the University for their new anti-harassment policy. | Carolina Yanez/The Cougar

Three students are suing the University as they claim their anti-discrimination policy is in violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as first reported by the Houston Chronicle. 

The anonymous students are working in part with Speech First, an organization dedicated to protecting students’ free speech on campus. The lawsuit calls out UH System Chancellor Renu Khator, along with Provost Paula Myrick Short, vice president of student affairs, Board of Regents members, and others.

The lawsuit elaborates on the University’s harassment policy which bans slurs and negative stereotypes, and claims both violate the First and Fourteenth amendments. It also states that these students have suffered “concrete injuries as a direct result of the University’s unconstitutional harassment policy.”

“This lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the University of Houston System’s anti-discrimination policy based on the First Amendment,” said the UH System. “We believe Speech First has misconstrued or misread this policy as our policy clearly indicates that actionable harassment must be ‘unlawful severe, pervasive, or persistent treatment,’ the standard cited by plaintiffs and adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court. We look forward to a prompt resolution of this matter.”

Speech First calls the students Student A, Student B and Student C. Students A and C are freshmen and Student B is a sophomore. Some of Student A’s beliefs include opposing legalized abortion, marriage is between a man and a woman and being against undocumented immigration.

Student B has similar views and states that, although he “has no ill will against the LGBT community,” there are things he doesn’t understand, including pronouns aside from he/him and she/her.

Student C’s views are similar to A and B, and  also strongly supporting Israel and how, as a woman, she doesn’t “want to be forced to ‘affirm’ that a man is really a ‘woman.’”

The lawsuit claims that similar harassment policies have been found to ban free speech. Speech First is requesting a declaratory judgment stating that the University’s policy violates the amendment mentioned and a permanent injunction excluding the defendants from enforcing the harassment policy.

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