Posted on April 13, 2006

Students’ Lawsuit Targets Policies Against ‘Intolerance’

Student Press Law Center, April 12, 2006

GEORGIA — When their affirmative action bake sale was shut down, College Republicans at the Georgia Institute of Technology bristled.

When university officials ordered parts of their protest signs for “The Vagina Monologues” be painted over with white paint, they fumed.

Now, two members of the student organization are suing the public university in Atlanta, alleging the school’s Community Policies repeatedly restricted their free speech and continue to infringe on their rights.

The university’s Community Guide for 2005-06 identifies several “Acts of Intolerance” that are considered “unacceptable,” including “any attempt to injure, harm, malign or harass a person because of race, religious belief, color, sexual/affectional orientation.”

The policy also says that “denigrating written/verbal communication . . . directed toward an individual because of their characteristics or beliefs” is an “Act of Intolerance.”

The university has indicated with these policies that “people who have the ‘acceptable’ viewpoint should have more rights to speak than those with the ‘unacceptable’ viewpoint, which is fundamentally contrary to the First Amendment,” said David French, an Alliance Defense Fund attorney representing students Orit Sklar and Ruth Malhotra.

Attorneys for the students filed the lawsuit against Georgia Tech in a federal court on March 16.

The Alliance Defense Fund is a non-profit organization based in Scottsdale, Ariz., that advocates for religious liberty and expression.