Education

Georgia Law Bans ‘Free Speech Zones’ at Public Colleges

Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a bill into law Tuesday that eliminates existing “free speech zones” on college campuses and designates all unrestricted outdoor spaces public forums for institutions that are part of Georgia’s university and technical college system.

“Freedom of expression is one of this great nation’s fundamental liberties,” Kemp said in a news release from his office. “Here in Georgia, we will protect those rights and that which is appropriate for any place of higher learning—the ability to learn of different ideas.”

The bill is known as the Forming Open and Robust University Minds Act. Georgia is the 22nd state to ban free speech zones, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

The FORUM Act was not without opposition; some proponents argued that it would enable extremists on campus. One group of lawmakers described it as one of a handful of “ugly” bills to pass in the 2022 legislative session. The FORUM Act comes from model legislation advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative nonprofit organization that frequently shapes state politics across the U.S. as members introduce bills drafted or heavily influenced by ALEC.

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