Georgia Tech paid $50,000 to an anti-LGBTQ legal group to settle a federal lawsuit after the school’s student government denied funding for an on-campus appearance by “known homophobe” Alveda King.
The pro-life group Students for Life filed the suit in April when Georgia Tech’s Student Government Association denied the $2,350 fee for a September 2019 speech by King (photo). SGA members cited King’s long anti-LGBTQ history, including her comments at a 2010 Atlanta rally where she compared same-sex marriage to genocide.
“Dr. King is a known homophobe who has previously said things that can negatively affect the community, and we can’t censor her talk,” one SGA member said at a meeting about funding the speech.
Anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom represented Students for Life in the lawsuit. The group asserted the school violated the constitutional rights of Students for Life members. Defendants included the University System of Georgia, Georgia Tech’s SGA, Georgia Tech President Angel Cabrera and several other school administrators.
Georgia Tech agreed to pay $50,000 to ADF as part of the settlement. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia accepted a notice of dismissal on Sept. 10.
The school also revised its Registered Student Organizations Policy. It now states that funds go to student groups based on “viewpoint-neutral decision-making criteria,” according to the settlement.
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins celebrated the settlement in a statement to the AJC.
“The Constitution is clear that public universities can’t discriminate against students for their political or religious beliefs, and we are hopeful that Georgia Tech’s decisive policy changes will set an example for universities around the country to uphold all students’ constitutional rights.”
A spokesperson for Georgia Tech told the AJC that First Amendment guarantees of free expression “are an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge.”
“Georgia Tech is pleased with the policies, as they reflect our commitment to upholding these important principles.”
Alliance Defending Freedom also provided legal support for former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired in 2015 after publishing a book with anti-LGBTQ statements. Earlier this year, ADF backed a legislative proposal to allow campus groups to discriminate against LGBTQ groups. In 2016, the organization spoke during a public meeting in a North Georgia county that attacked transgender students.
The group also provided grants to Scott Bergthold, an attorney with an anti-LGBTQ track record that has been hired by cities in the region, including Atlanta, to wage legal wars on sexually-oriented businesses.
This story is made possible by a grant from the Google News Initiative’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund.