My Standoff for Free Speech on Campus

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Student is disheartened over silencing of free speech on campus
I wasn't capable of fully grasping the battle of free speech on campus until my sophomore year of college.

Less than three days after tweeting support of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Texas’s Heartbeat Act, a gaming company’s CEO was forced to step down. Similarly, a teacher of 11 years was replaced over attending an anti-abortion protest, a manager had to resign over her nomination of a pro-life lobby and a health aide to a former president was pushed out over not issuing grants to abortion clinics. Societal opposition to the pro-life movement is often found to be a recurring theme. Consequently, this places fear of speaking up into so many hearts, even in a nation founded on the very privilege and practice of free speech. I wasn’t capable of fully grasping the severity of this battle until my sophomore year of college.

A Leap of Faith

As part of the campus’s newspaper staff, diving into a battle of free speech with my secular peers was far from my radar. Though I was the youngest on campus at 17, I wasn’t completely naïve to the resistance toward my worldview. Instead, I joined with the intent of spreading uninfluenced truth to others in an outlet otherwise filled with bias in today’s culture. I was promoted to an editor within weeks. Unfortunately, I quickly had to come to the realization that the idea of media without any inserted opinion simply wasn’t possible; important voices would be silenced.

Woman with backpack deciding to stand up for free speech on campus

The vitality of free speech is tested when we disagree, and I didn’t want to fail. So, when my leaders sent controversial, one-sided articles through as standard news, I followed in suit.   

After, I tried to rationalize why my classmates and authoritative figures were simply taking subjective truth as objective through common acceptance, and I realized I had fallen prey to the same. Though I knew that life begins at conception, the cultural voices telling me otherwise drove me to question its validity. But the power of truth is not lost through denial. So, I swallowed my pride, pushed through my doubt and decided it was time to establish faith within my convictions.   

Was I Really That Important?

I wanted to pitch my pro-life article without immediately coming up against rejection. As a result, I went to my editor and asked if I could write “an opinion piece on abortion.” Assuming my stance would fall within the pro-choice norm of Los Angeles, I was given the go-ahead.   

I began with addressing core arguments from proponents of the pro-choice movement, seeking to put myself in the perspective of many Americans that favor abortion. I referenced unbiased institutions and medical journals so as to not be discredited. Then, I had professors, mentors and others review the content at length. I left no cracks; each word had a reputable source. I was confident it would be sent through for publication as easily as any other controversial piece had been. That peace of mind unfortunately didn’t translate to my social circumstances. But, regardless, I took a deep breath and submitted it.  

See Life 2021 Touches on Free Speech on Campus

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Word quickly spread of my unpopular position on abortion the next day. The tension in the air was unbearably heavy. One by one, my classmates would fall silent while I uneasily made my way to my seat. The hostility was unexpected and jarring. Nevertheless, they had made their point unequivocally clear.  

I was a betrayer to my sex. I was an enemy for proposing an unfamiliar perspective.  

The friction between our opposing views paid its toll in more ways than one. In addition to classmates shutting me out socially, the publishing process was repeatedly manipulated by both my editor and professor. Excuses caused the article’s content to quickly dwindle to half its original intent. Meanwhile, weeks would pass between each round of edits. Since the clock was ticking, it provided an opportunity for them to discreetly withdraw my rights of free speech on campus. If the article could be delayed just a few more days then my words would never be exposed to the world.  

A Nudge from the Holy Spirit

Sad student beside quote about free speech on campus

As the situation escalated, I became more disheartened. The emotional and social sacrifice didn’t seem worth it anymore. Fear of the inevitable judgment I would face each time I stepped onto campus overwhelmed me.

I was tired of fighting. I was emotionally beaten down. What were a couple hundred words written by a 17-year-old truly worth? Within moments of conceding, I stared at the article I had fought so hard for people to see, and my eyes wandered to the last line.  

“The timeliness and urgency with this topic are no less than predominant, because an average of 200 lives were taken by abortion since the beginning of this article.”   

It was just the push I needed. So, what were a couple hundred words written by a 17-year-old truly worth? Nothing without Christ. We aren’t called to be extraordinary, but to become a willing catalyst for extraordinary things through Him. For this purpose, I was going to fight to open the eyes of the two-thirds of my generation that were not taken from abortion.

I mustered up the courage to confront my professor and editor after researching censorship on campus. Upon reviewing each law broken with them, I asked one more time to publish the article – even if it meant adding a disclaimer distancing my and the school’s views (which had never previously been done on an opinion article). After months of fighting, it was finally published and received thousands of views within the first 24 hours. In fact, it’s still available to read online here.  

You Can Fight, Too

Studying God’s Word reveals Christ’s mission was centered around ideas often rejected by the world. Did that make the truth any less important? Not by a long shot – it was in fact their refusal that gave His words that much more power to those around him. We can be encouraged through His example to choose to push past the world’s rejection and point to truth. Whatever role you play in society – whether it be a student, teacher, CEO, aide or anything else – the movement needs you to do the same. Here are a few ways to get involved.

Resources for Defending Free Speech

Additionally, if you have studied the First Amendment and believe you may be experiencing discrimination or censorship of free speech on campus, we encourage you to get in touch with the Alliance Defending Freedom or the American Civil Liberties Union to learn how to properly take action.   

Your Voice Matters

Over three-quarters of abortions occur in high school or college students, which is why exercising free speech on campus is essential. It can be incredibly intimidating, but as believers, we only have this small fraction of eternity to defend the basic right to life. The pro-life movement needs us to speak truth into a broken world. We must step up. We must fight. 

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There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

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We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

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The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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