Lone Star College System revises policies after ousting conservative student group
HOUSTON – Lone Star College officials have agreed to make policy changes to settle a federal lawsuit that Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed on behalf of a student group ousted for its conservative views. The policy changes ensure that the college will no longer discriminate against any student group based on its viewpoint. In light of the settlement, ADF attorneys filed a voluntary dismissal of the case Tuesday, which the court accepted.
The CyFair campus chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas and its president sued after Lone Star College derecognized the group. The six-campus system is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area.
“Public colleges and universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas. These policy changes will ensure that the marketplace will function properly at Lone Star College, where previously only administrator-approved ideas were allowed,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “We commend Lone Star officials for making sure that its policies respect the constitutionally protected freedoms that students have under the First Amendment.”
The lawsuit challenged policies within the LSC System that gave officials unrestricted authority to recognize and derecognize student organizations based on whether those officials approved of the viewpoints of the groups. The suit also challenged policies that required all students to pay student activity fees to fund student organization activities but only allowed student groups that college officials preferred to draw from those funds.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the college will adopt revised policies so that they no longer allow unconstitutional discrimination.
An official derecognized Young Conservatives of Texas on the CyFair campus after it posted a video online of an abortion debate that it sponsored with the school’s permission. The official then resigned as the club’s advisor because he said that the club didn’t obtain his permission to post the video. He also said the club’s mission didn’t align with the mission of the college.
In order for a student organization to be recognized under the old policies, the club had to have a faculty sponsor who was employed full time by the college. Because 75 percent of LSC-Cy Fair’s faculty is part-time and because the club couldn’t find a sponsor among the other 25 percent because many of them didn’t like the group’s conservative views, the college appointed a sponsor—the same official who eventually derecognized the club. The college provided no appeals process.
Warren Norred, one of more than 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, served as local counsel for the student group in the case, Young Conservatives of Texas v. Head, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
- Pronunciation guide: Langhofer (LANG’-hoff-ur)
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to ensuring freedom of speech and association for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.
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