I have been rough on my home state in recent posts. Whether chiding the University of California Regents over a proposed speech code or pointing out the contradictory approaches to student speech, the lack of respect for student speech in California has caused me to cringe. But just when I thought I was being too hard on the State I love, the California Legislature moves one step closer to creating “Discrimination-Free Zones” on all public school campuses, including universities. And now I don’t feel so guilty.
According to the text of ACR 82, which passed another hurdle in the legislature last week, California wants all public institutions of learning to implement “discrimination-free” zones by enacting new policies, offering new counseling services and providing new conflict management groups to “provide a safe haven from intolerance or discrimination.” Here are the relevant portions of the resolution:
Resolved, by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof, concurring, That the Legislature of the State of California hereby encourages all public education institutions, working with students, teachers, faculty, and other members of the public education community, to designate each campus as a “Discrimination-Free Zone” to provide a safe haven from intolerance or discrimination; and be it further
Resolved, That all public education institutions, prekindergarten through university campuses, are encouraged to develop and enact policies that support tolerance and acceptance of others regardless of their race or ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code; and be it further
Resolved, That all public education institutions are encouraged to enact procedures, such as counseling services and conflict management, that meaningfully address acts of discrimination that occur on campus; and be it further
Resolved, That all public education institutions are encouraged to notify parents and the campus community should be notified of existing policies and procedures that encourage tolerance of others; and be it further
Resolved, That all public education institutions are encouraged to use existing resources to identify themselves as “Discrimination-Free Zones” through placards, signs, notices of available services, and other appropriate identifications to create a campus climate that welcomes diversity and supports the tolerance of others
Who is behind this, you ask? The California Faculty Association, the University of California, Equality California, the PTA and the California State Student Association, among others.
While this is only a resolution and not a binding bill, the intent of the California Legislature could not be more clear: free speech must yield to “tolerance and acceptance of others.” Unfortunately for California college students, the encouragement of ”policies that support tolerance and acceptance of others” will inevitably result in more campus speech codes and censorship, similar to what happened at Spokane Falls Community College last year.
It turns out I was wrong the other day when I said that California has free speech schizophrenia. It does not. A few colleges and universities strive to protect students’ rights. But these are the outliers. The Legislature has made it clear that California public policy is to dismantle the marketplace of ideas. We will try to make sure that does not happen.