Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Student Punished for Booing at a Soccer Game


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Case Overview


At a Virginia Tech women’s soccer match on September 26, Senior Associate Athletics Director Reyna Gilbert-Lowry asked student Sean Lohr to “tone it down” after he yelled at a referee. Lohr called her “a glorified PE [physical education] teacher” and exhorted the crowd to jeer her. Gilbert-Lowry then directed campus security to remove him from the event. Lohr was found responsible for “Disorderly or Disruptive Conduct” on October 22. FIRE wrote to Virginia Tech on December 7 calling for the university to rescind its punishment of Lohr for engaging in protected, non-disruptive expression at the match. The university refused to clear Lohr’s record, prompting FIRE to send another letter on February 8, 2022, urging the university to take its First Amendment obligation seriously.