Louisiana State University – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge

This lawsuit is a part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.

On January 21, 2016, tenured education professor Teresa Buchanan filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the president of Louisiana State University (LSU) and other top administrators for violating her free speech and due process rights by firing her in 2015.

Buchanan was fired for her alleged occasional use of profanity and sexual language in preparing her adult students to be effective teachers. LSU claimed Buchanan’s teaching methods violated its policy prohibiting “sexual harassment” of students, which defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical behavior of a sexual nature.”

LSU’s policy mirrors the language of the sexual harassment definition propagated by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice in 2013 as “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country.” FIRE and other civil liberties advocates have warned this controversial language threatens the free speech and academic freedom rights of faculty and students. Buchanan’s lawsuit challenges the policy and its application to her case.

  • Louisiana State University’s Faculty Senate Adopts Chicago Statement

    February 23, 2016

    Louisiana State University’s (LSU’s) faculty senate adopted a resolution yesterday affirming its commitment to free speech on campus. The group’s vote makes LSU the tenth institution at which faculty or administrators have formally endorsed the University of Chicago’s policy statement on freedom of expression, which FIRE has promoted as the gold standard for speech policy statements in higher education. LSU’s faculty senate has acted at a particularly tenuous moment for free speech at LSU, having first introduced the resolution late last month, on the same day former LSU professor Teresa Buchanan announced her FIRE-sponsored Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project […]

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  • FIRE’s Will Creeley in ‘The Wall Street Journal’: How the Sexual Harassment Cops Became Speech Police

    February 20, 2016

    In this weekend’s edition of The Wall Street Journal, FIRE’s Will Creeley explains why those of us who care about free speech on campus should watch closely Teresa Buchanan’s recently filed civil rights lawsuit against Louisiana State University (LSU). Buchanan’s lawsuit against LSU, filed last month with FIRE’s help, followed her firing over her alleged occasional use of profanity and sexual language in preparing her adult students to be effective teachers. Buchanan, a tenured associate professor teaching in LSU’s acclaimed teacher certification program, was charged with violating the university’s sexual harassment policy—which, importantly, mirrors the language of the sexual harassment […]

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  • Teresa Buchanan Uncensored: How an Innovative Educator Created Top Teachers and Got Fired for It

    January 22, 2016

    Teresa Buchanan meant business. It was 2002, and as one of the nation’s top early childhood education scholars at Louisiana State University (LSU), Buchanan had been tasked with starting a program for student teachers. One of its goals was to prepare LSU undergraduates to help fix Louisiana’s failing public school system. It was a job Buchanan knew would take time away from the research she most loved. But as she explained to FIRE on a recent afternoon, she stepped up. After all, she said, “I’m passionate about good teaching.” That passion would produce one of the country’s most innovative early […]

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  • On Day of FIRE Lawsuit, LSU Faculty Introduce Resolution to Adopt ‘Chicago Principles’

    January 21, 2016

    On the heels of the announcement this morning of a FIRE-sponsored lawsuit by fired Louisiana State University (LSU) professor Teresa Buchanan against top LSU administrators, the LSU Faculty Senate will introduce a resolution to adopt a version of the “Chicago Principles” affirming the faculty’s commitment to free speech. The resolution will be introduced this afternoon at the senate’s regularly scheduled meeting, at 3 p.m. CST in the LSU student union. A full vote on the motion will take place on February 22. If passed, the resolution would represent the Faculty Senate’s strongest statement to date on the centrality of academic […]

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  • Fired LSU Professor Files First Amendment Lawsuit Challenging Speech Code Championed by Feds

    January 21, 2016

    LSU claimed professor’s teaching methods violated sexual harassment policy that mirrors “blueprint” language proposed by U.S. Depts of Education, Justice “LSU said I offended some people, called it sexual harassment, and fired me.” Civil liberties advocates warned the policy threatened free speech on campus Professor asks court to strike down LSU policy as unconstitutional, reverse firing BATON ROUGE, La., January 21, 2016—Late yesterday, education professor Teresa Buchanan filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the president of Louisiana State University (LSU) and other top administrators for violating her free speech and due process rights by firing her last year. The […]

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  • Faculty Senate Censures LSU President for Firing Tenured Professor

    October 8, 2015

    This past June, Louisiana State University (LSU) President F. King Alexander fired tenured associate professor Teresa Buchanan for sexual harassment, ignoring a faculty panel that unanimously recommended that she keep her job. As has been reported here on The Torch and elsewhere, Professor Buchanan’s transgression (if one can call it that) was to occasionally use vulgar language in class. She gave unvarnished feedback to students, which prompted a few complaints about her tone in student evaluations. And one student took personally remarks Professor Buchanan made in class that students’ significant others become increasingly less willing to make allowances for the […]

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  • AAUP Censures Louisiana State Over Buchanan Case, Prompting LSU to Play Dirty

    September 3, 2015

    When I took employment law in law school, the professor warned us on the first day that personnel disputes would be among the most vicious we would encounter as lawyers because they are, by definition, personal. Louisiana State University has proved my professor’s point by launching a series of attacks against Professor Teresa Buchanan, who, in spite of having tenure, was fired from the university in June 2015 on the flimsiest of grounds: Her use of profanity constituted sexual harassment. LSU’s action was absurd and, as it is discovering, indefensible. Yesterday, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) issued a […]

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  • Firing of LSU Professor Who Used Profanity in the Classroom Raises Concerns

    June 30, 2015

    Last week, Louisiana State University (LSU) associate professor Teresa Buchanan learned that she was fired from LSU as a result of what she’s calling a “witch hunt.” In April, a faculty review committee ruled on Buchanan’s use of curse words and sex-themed jokes, recommending corrective action but unanimously voting against her firing. LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander ignored the committee’s advice and took the situation further by asking LSU’s Board of Supervisors to fire Buchanan. Buchanan appealed to LSU’s Board of Supervisors, citing her satisfactory performance reviews and arguing that her use of profanity in the classroom did […]

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