2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
Free expression on campus.
Free expression on campus.
1004.097 Free expression on campus.—
(1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Campus Free Expression Act.”
(2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Commercial speech” means speech in which the individual is engaged in commerce, the intended audience is commercial or actual or potential consumers, and the content of the message is commercial.
(b) “Free-speech zone” means an area on a campus of a public institution of higher education which is designated for the purpose of engaging in expressive activities.
(c) “Material and substantial disruption” means any conduct that intentionally and significantly hinders another person’s or group’s expressive rights. The term does not include conduct that is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Art. I of the State Constitution, including, but not limited to, lawful protests and counter-protests in the outdoor areas of campus or minor, brief, or fleeting nonviolent disruptions that are isolated or brief in duration.
(d) “Outdoor areas of campus” means generally accessible areas of a campus of a public institution of higher education in which members of the campus community are commonly allowed, including grassy areas, walkways, or other similar common areas. The term does not include outdoor areas of campus to which access is restricted.
(e) “Public institution of higher education” means any public technical center, state college, state university, law school, medical school, dental school, or other Florida College System institution as defined in s. 1000.21.
(f) “Shield” means to limit students’, faculty members’, or staff members’ access to, or observation of, ideas and opinions that they may find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable, or offensive.
(3) RIGHT TO FREE-SPEECH ACTIVITIES.—
(a) Expressive activities protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Art. I of the State Constitution include, but are not limited to, any lawful oral or written communication of ideas, including all forms of peaceful assembly, protests, and speeches; distributing literature; carrying signs; circulating petitions; faculty research, lectures, writings, and commentary, whether published or unpublished; and the recording and publication, including the Internet publication, of video or audio recorded in outdoor areas of campus. Expressive activities protected by this section do not include defamatory or commercial speech.
(b) A person who wishes to engage in an expressive activity in outdoor areas of campus may do so freely, spontaneously, and contemporaneously as long as the person’s conduct is lawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the public institution of higher education or infringe upon the rights of other individuals or organizations to engage in expressive activities.
(c) Outdoor areas of campus are considered traditional public forums for individuals, organizations, and guest speakers. A public institution of higher education may create and enforce restrictions that are reasonable and content-neutral on time, place, and manner of expression and that are narrowly tailored to a significant institutional interest. Restrictions must be clear and published and must provide for ample alternative means of expression.
(d) A public institution of higher education may not designate any area of campus as a free-speech zone or otherwise create policies restricting expressive activities to a particular outdoor area of campus, except as provided in paragraph (c).
(e) Students, faculty, or staff of a public institution of higher education may not materially disrupt previously scheduled or reserved activities on campus occurring at the same time.
(f) A Florida College System institution or a state university may not shield students, faculty, or staff from expressive activities.
(g) Notwithstanding s. 934.03 and subject to the protections provided in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, and ss. 1002.22 and 1002.225, a student may record video or audio of class lectures for their own personal educational use, in connection with a complaint to the public institution of higher education where the recording was made, or as evidence in, or in preparation for, a criminal or civil proceeding. A recorded lecture may not be published without the consent of the lecturer.
(4) CAUSE OF ACTION.—A person injured by a violation of this section may bring an action:
(a) Against a public institution of higher education based on the violation of the individual’s expressive rights in a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain declaratory and injunctive relief and may be entitled to damages plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees, which may only be paid from nonstate funds.
(b) Against a person who has published video or audio recorded in a classroom in violation of paragraph (3)(g) in a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain declaratory and injunctive relief and may be entitled to damages plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees, with the total recovery not to exceed $200,000.
History.—s. 6, ch. 2018-4; s. 120, ch. 2019-3; s. 3, ch. 2021-159.