State lawmakers in Florida are joining the effort to strengthen guarantees of free speech on public university campuses, making it the 21st state to consider such legislation.

The “Campus Free Expression Act,” filed in mid-December by State Senator Dennis Baxley and State Representative Bob Rommel, would restrict federally funded institutions of higher education from designating any area of campus as a “free speech zone.”

If passed, the bill would prohibit colleges and universities from imposing blanket restrictions on speech in outdoor areas of campus, defining those areas as “traditional public forums” open to anybody wishing to use them for free expression, 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.”

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