Court: Georgia Tech “Safe Space” program not safe from Constitution
ATLANTA — A federal judge has ruled another policy unconstitutional at Georgia Institute of Technology in a lawsuit Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed on behalf of two students. The court already struck down a “speech code” policy at the university, but additionally ruled Wednesday that provisions of the school’s “Safe Space” program discriminate against religion and are therefore unconstitutional.
“A public university should not be openly disparaging the beliefs of students who hold to a biblical view of homosexual behavior while endorsing other views,” said ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum. “The university’s ‘Safe Space’ program had no business siding with certain religious beliefs while viciously attacking others. The program openly ridiculed the faith of many students while declaring that people in other religious groups have the ‘correct’ beliefs. The court was right to declare that portion of the program unconstitutional.”
ADF attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against university officials on behalf of students Orit Sklar and Ruth Malhotra in March 2006. A federal court then ruled on the first part of the case, ordering a repeal of Georgia Tech’s speech code, which punished students for speech that school officials deemed to be “intolerant.” The court denied a request by school officials that the case be dropped and prohibited the university from changing its new student speech policy without court approval for five years.
Wednesday’s ruling put an end to discriminatory provisions of Georgia Tech’s “Safe Space” training program, which officials used to support religious viewpoints that favor homosexual behavior while disparaging those that oppose it.
In its ruling, the court ordered the removal of the discriminatory religious information from the program’s training manual, finding that Georgia Tech officials “violated the Establishment Clause by favoring one religion over another in the state-associated Safe Space Program.”
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom defends religious freedom at America’s public universities. ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.