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Proposed State Law Would Prohibit Protest Interruption

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

A new bill at the state Capitol is hoping to change free speech on Oklahoma campuses.

The bill itself, which is sure to spark controversy, is actually because of controversy on college campuses across the country. 

Called the Forming Open and Robust University Minds Act, or the FORUM Act in part, protects speech or demonstrations on campuses from being interrupted.

It also prevents schools from discriminating against religious demonstrations or faith based groups. 

The FORUM Act also allows lawsuits to be filed against state institutions if someone feels their freedom of speech was stopped or interrupted. 

It comes after protests on campuses across the country over controversial guest speakers such as Ann Coulter or Milo Yiannopoulos.

The group behind the bill, Americans for Prosperity, said the bill is needed to stop students from being silent, saying in part, "Silencing people under the guise of 'protection' only works to restrict the intellectual and social development of college and university students."

News 9 reached out to both OU and OSU. OU officials say they are watching the bill closely and that "the University of Oklahoma is strongly committed to free expression as a cornerstone of the academic experience." 

OU is no stranger to controversial speech. Last year, fliers were posted by the white pride group Identity Europa around campus and the school came under fire in 2015 after a racist chant was recorded on a fraternity bus. It would appear that both kinds of speech would be protected under this bill.

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