Court Halts Use of Sexual Harassment Policy

July 15, 2009

A federal judge has issued an injunction barring the Los Angeles Community College District from using parts of its sexual harassment policy, which are being challenged in court as too vague, too broad, and too easy to use to squelch free speech. The judge's ruling came in a suit by Jonathan Lopez, a student charges that his public speaking professor at Los Angeles City College called him a "fascist bastard" for a speech during which the student read a dictionary definition of marriage and two Bible passages. The suit says that the harassment policy helped lead to his ideas being mocked and rejected by his instructor. The district argued in court that no injunction was needed because the student has since received a good grade and the professor was punished, but the court rejected those arguments. Camille A. Goulet, general counsel for the district, issued a statement in which she said that the district hasn't decided whether to appeal. She added that the district "recognizes and respects the difficult balance that often arises in meeting its commitment to providing an environment of academic freedom, as well as an environment that is welcoming and fulfills the mandate to prevent unlawful harassment."

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