by Donal Brown
First Amendment Coalition
The Departments of Justice and Education are ordering every U.S. college and university to enact speech codes that include restrictions on expression on sexual topics that offend any person; sexually themed jokes that are considered offensive; and requests for dates or flirtation not welcomed by the recipient.”…the Departments of Justice and Education have mandated a breathtakingly broad definition of sexual harassment that makes virtually every student in the United States a harasser while ignoring the First Amendment. The mandate applies to every college receiving federal funding—virtually every American institution of higher education nationwide, public or private,” wrote the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in a press release, May 10, 2013.
These types of prohibitions as applied to speech have been found by courts to be vague and overbroad. (Volokh Conspiracy, May 13, 2013, by Eugene Volokh)
In noting with this new mandate that the federal government has “effectively defined dating and sex education as ‘sexual harassment,’” Han Bader, OpenMarket.Org, May 10, 2013, concludes, “Defining ‘any’ romantic overture or sexual speech as ‘harassment’ based purely on subjective reactions has dire implications for dating. It defines a single, unrepeated, civil request to go out on a date as ‘sexual harassment’ even if the requester never makes the request again after learning that it was ‘subjectively’ unwelcome. That may effectively ban dating (since no one is a mind reader, and the whole point of asking someone out on a date is because you don’t know before asking whether they would be interested without first asking).”