Florida Says Public Universities Curricula Are ‘Speech Of The State’ And Can Be Regulated


The state of Florida said Thursday that teacher curricula and lessons at public universities are “the speech of the government” and “not the speech of the teachers themselves.” Thus, such expression is fair game to be regulated by state legislatures.

“The university shall establish the curriculum of a state university by the requirements and direction of the elected officials of the state,” state lawyers – wrote in a court statement. “This is the government’s speech.”

The state responded to a lawsuit filed this year by several professors and one student alleging Florida’s Stop Awake law violates the First Amendment and is unconstitutionally vague and racially discriminatory.

The law supported by state governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, bars state colleges not subject anyone to training or instruction that promotes any of the eight “divisive concepts” regarding race and gender, including that “a person, because of his race, color, sex, or national origin, should be discriminated against or adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity or inclusion.” There are similar concepts appeared in state laws throughout the country.

“The government of Florida just decided to regulate your own speech — the curriculum used at public universities and classroom instruction offered by public employees — and the First Amendment simply has no application in that context,” the lawyers wrote in the court filing.

The Stop WOKE Act does not prohibit in-state teachers from “expressing whatever views they may hold, racially or otherwise, on their own time, and it does not prevent students from seeking them out and listening to them,” – the statement said. The law also does not prohibit professors from discussing “controversial concepts” in class, as long as the instruction is “delivered objectively without approval,” the report said.

Florida faculty and other critics of the Stop, the Wake law argued that it violates the academic freedom of teachers teaching and researching controversial topics. Lawyers for the state disagreed, arguing that academic freedom only applies to universities as a whole, not to individual faculty members.

State citation Garcetti vs. Ceballos, a Resolution of 2006 by the US Supreme Court in a case involving public employees’ work-related speech, argues that “educators at public universities do not have a First Amendment right to control the curriculum.”

While the Supreme Court directly refused to determine GarcettiThe American Association of University Professors described the ruling in an application for higher education at that time as a “serious threat to academic freedom.” Since then, the courts have issued various decisions on this issue, it is reported Foundation for individual rights and self-expression.

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said last year that Garcetti’s solution does not apply to public university audiences, ruling in favor of a professor who refused to refer to a transgender student by the student’s preferred pronouns. And this year, the Supreme Court ruled against a public high school football coach who was fired for praying on the field before games, overturning a Ninth Circuit ruling that the coach’s speech was not protected speech.

A hearing on the “Stop VAK” case is scheduled for October.