Trump Administration Issues Final Rule to Protect Free Inquiry and Religious Freedom on Campuses

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a final rule to protect free inquiry and religious freedom on college campuses.

Before this rule, President Donald Trump promised he’d take action on this issue. He signed an executive order last year to link federal tax money with students’ First Amendment rights. The schools that receive funding from taxpayers must protect free speech or risk losing that funding.

“We reject oppressive speech codes, censorship, political correctness, and every other attempt by the hard left to stop people from challenging ridiculous and dangerous ideas,” the president said. “These ideas are dangerous. Instead, we believe in free speech, including online and including on campus.”

ED Secretary Betsy DeVos last week published the Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities final rule.

The new rule will ensure that public institutions of higher education uphold fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that private institutions of higher education adhere to their own policies regarding freedom of speech, including academic freedom. The final rule also ensures the equal treatment and constitutional rights of religious student organizations at public institutions and provides clarity for faith-based institutions with respect to Title IX.

ED’s final rule implement’s President Trump’s executive order, clarifies how a school may demonstrate that it’s controlled by a religious organization to qualify for exemptions under Title IX, ensures equal treatment for religious student organizations, and more narrowly tailors the prohibition on the use of grants to religious instruction, worship, or proselytizing.

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