Va. community colleges suspend speech policy

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Local,Virginia

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Community College System is abandoning a policy that was challenged by a student who was barred from preaching on a Hampton campus.

Thomas Nelson Community College student Christian Parks claims in a lawsuit that the policy governing campus demonstrations violates his free-speech and religious rights. Under the policy covering all 23 Virginia community colleges, only demonstrations by recognized student organizations in designated areas are allowed.

In a proposed consent order filed Friday in federal court, the community colleges agreed to suspend enforcement while a settlement is worked out and a new policy is developed. The consent order requires a judge's approval. It was filed the same day Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed legislation limiting public colleges' authority to restrict student speech.

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