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Group asks judge to halt university’s anti-bias policies

July 11, 2021 GMT

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A conservative group is asking a court to temporarily prohibit Virginia Tech from enforcing some of its policies against harassment and discrimination.

The Roanoke Times reported Friday that the group is called Speech First Inc.

The group has already filed a lawsuit on behalf of three students against the school’s anti-bias policies. Now the group wants a federal judge to temporarily prevent the university from enforcing the policies until he rules on the lawsuit.

The group contends that the students hold views that are unpopular on a campus of roughly 35,000 students. Those views include opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement as well as same-sex marriage and abortion.

The lawsuit claims Virginia Tech’s policies are overly vague because they forbid “telling unwelcome jokes about someone’s identity” and urging “religious beliefs on someone who finds it unwelcome.”

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The school has revised one of its policies by clarifying that a ban on speech for “partisan and political purposes” applies only to employees. But Virginia Tech is defending the rest and urged the judge not to grant the group’s request for a preliminary injunction.

“It cannot be that Virginia Tech is essentially prohibited in the face of the First Amendment” from having anti-harassment policies, said counsel to the Attorney General Jessica Samuels, who represents university president Tim Sands.