Drawing the line between free speech and hate speech on campus


Travis Fannon

Z Frizzell, a freshman geoscience major, holds a nonbinary flag in response to an anti-LGBTQ on-campus demonstration on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Nia Chancellor, Reporter

We’ve all seen the individuals and groups who come on campus and speak their two cents.

Sometimes it’s something harmless like the “moon landing man,” however, a good majority of the time it’s people spreading hate. 

Last year, during my freshman year, I lived on central campus, so I didn’t experience people like this when walking to class. 

Now, currently living on north campus and having all my classes in that area, it’s become very draining having people in your face telling you that you’re going to hell because of your sexuality, gender identity and race.

This shouldn’t be something normal nor something students just have to deal with. 

I understand that UK is a public campus, but there is no reason why hateful signs and words are being spread across campus — these actually impact people. 

I feel like sometimes people forget how harmful words and actions like these can affect people. There is so much stigma around people who are “different” than what is considered the “standard,” which are usually white, cis-gender, straight men.

A few weeks ago, there were anti-LGBTQ protestors outside of White Hall who held up signs that said stuff like “HOMO SEX IS SIN.”

They also were yelling at students and attacking different groups within the LGBTQ community, whether they believed they were a part of it or not. 

Why is this allowed on campus? Why do people have to be harassed and attacked on their way to class for just being themselves? 

This is definitely an issue, and it feels like UK doesn’t really care when it comes to free speech. 

I spoke to some of my friends about this and, as a group, they collectively feel like it’s become too much. 

They feel annoyed and upset whenever the more extreme individuals come on campus, however, they have no problem with the people who are more peaceful and unproblematic about their opinion. 

It is important to remember that words and actions have an effect on people. 

There is a fine line between giving your opinion on campus and purposely trying to attack people or being hateful. 

It’s difficult because it feels like as I said earlier UK is a public campus so in what ways can they regulate the amount of protesters who cross the line? 

On the Gatton Center bridge, there are signs that say “No Soliciting.” 

However, that hasn’t stopped the more extreme side of protestors as mentioned earlier about the anti-LGBTQ protestors. 

As a community at UK, it’s important to feel safe and students should not have to deal with being yelled at on their way to class.