7 Cheryl K. Acton
8 Carl R. Albrecht
9 Kyle R. Andersen
10 Stewart E. Barlow
11 Kay J. Christofferson
12 Brad M. Daw
13 Ken Ivory
14 Dan N. Johnson
A. Cory Maloy
Calvin R. Musselman
Merrill F. Nelson
Douglas V. Sagers
Travis M. Seegmiller
Rex P. Shipp
Norman K. Thurston
Raymond P. Ward
Christine F. Watkins
16 LONG TITLE
17 General Description:
18 This bill enacts provisions related to discriminatory harassment and expression at an
19 institution of higher education.
20 Highlighted Provisions:
21 This bill:
22 ▸ defines terms;
23 ▸ enacts provisions related to discriminatory harassment at an institution of higher
24 education, including provisions that:
25 • prohibit an institution from punishing certain acts of speech that do not
26 constitute discriminatory harassment; and
27 • create a cause of action related to discriminatory harassment at an institution of
28 higher education; and
29 ▸ enacts provisions related to the free expression policies of an institution of higher
31 Money Appropriated in this Bill:
33 Other Special Clauses:
35 Utah Code Sections Affected:
37 53B-27-401, Utah Code Annotated 1953
38 53B-27-402, Utah Code Annotated 1953
39 53B-27-403, Utah Code Annotated 1953
40 53B-27-404, Utah Code Annotated 1953
41 53B-27-501, Utah Code Annotated 1953
43 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
44 Section 1. Section 53B-27-401 is enacted to read:
46 53B-27-401. Definitions.
47 As used in this part:
48 (1) "Discriminatory harassment" means student-on-student speech that:
49 (a) is unwelcome;
50 (b) discriminates on the basis of a classification protected under federal or state law;
52 (c) is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and
53 detracts from a student's educational experience, that the student is effectively denied access to
54 an institution's resource or opportunity.
55 (2) "Student" means an individual enrolled at an institution.
56 (3) (a) "Student-on-student speech" means verbal, written, or other communication that
58 (i) communicated by a student; and
59 (ii) directed at another student.
60 (b) "Student-on-student speech" does not include an act of physical contact between a
61 student and another student.
62 Section 2. Section 53B-27-402 is enacted to read:
63 53B-27-402. Institution duties.
64 (1) An institution is in violation of this part if the institution:
65 (a) gains actual knowledge of discriminatory harassment in the institution's program or
66 activity; and
67 (b) acts with deliberate indifference to the discriminatory harassment.
68 (2) (a) An institution may not punish, as discriminatory harassment, student-on-student
69 speech that does not constitute discriminatory harassment.
70 (b) An institution is not liable under this part for failing to punish a student who
71 communicates student-on-student speech that is not discriminatory harassment.
72 (3) Nothing in this part prevents an institution from punishing student-on-student
73 speech that is otherwise not protected under the First Amendment to the United States
75 (4) Nothing in this part prevents an institution from responding to student-on-student
76 speech that is not discriminatory harassment by taking nonpunitive actions designed to promote
77 a welcoming, inclusive environment.
78 (5) Nothing in this part prevents an institution from maintaining policies prohibiting
79 stalking or other criminal activity.
80 Section 3. Section 53B-27-403 is enacted to read:
81 53B-27-403. Cause of action.
82 (1) The following persons may bring an action to enjoin a violation of this part, in a
83 state court of competent jurisdiction, against an institution or an institution's agent acting in the
84 agent's official capacity:
85 (a) the attorney general; or
86 (b) a person claiming to be aggrieved by a violation of this part.
87 (2) In an action brought under this part, if the court finds a violation of this part, the
89 (a) shall enjoin the violation;
90 (b) shall, if a person claiming to be aggrieved brought the suit, award the aggrieved
91 person at least $1,000; and
92 (c) may award a prevailing plaintiff:
93 (i) compensatory damages;
94 (ii) reasonable court costs;
95 (iii) reasonable attorney fees and reasonable expert fees; or
96 (iv) any other relief that the court considers appropriate.
97 (3) In an action brought under this part, the court may award a prevailing defendant
98 reasonable attorney fees if the action was vexatious, frivolous, or brought to harass or
99 embarrass the defendant.
100 (4) The state waives immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States
101 Constitution and consents to suit in a federal court for lawsuits arising out of this part.
102 (5) Notwithstanding Title 63G, Chapter 7, Governmental Immunity Act of Utah, an
103 institution that violates this part is not immune from suit or liability for the violation.
104 Section 4. Section 53B-27-404 is enacted to read:
105 53B-27-404. Statute of limitations.
106 (1) Except as provided in Subsection (3)(b), an action under this part may not be
107 brought later than one year after the day on which the cause of action accrues.
108 (2) For an action alleging a violation of Subsection 53B-27-402(2)(a), the cause of
109 action accrues on the day on which the student receives final notice, from the institution, of
110 punishment that violates Subsection 53B-27-402(2)(a).
111 (3) (a) For an action alleging a violation of Subsection 53B-27-402(1), the cause of
112 action accrues on the day on which the institution receives knowledge of the discriminatory
114 (b) For an action described in Subsection (3)(a), the limitation described in Subsection
115 (1) shall extend to one year after the day on which the most recent known act of discriminatory
116 harassment, involving the same parties as a prior known act of discriminatory harassment,
118 Section 5. Section 53B-27-501 is enacted to read:
120 53B-27-501. Free expression policies.
121 (1) As used in this section, "free expression policy" means an institution's policy,
122 regulation, or other expectation related to student expression.
123 (2) An institution shall:
124 (a) publish the institution's free expression policies:
125 (i) in the institution's student handbook; and
126 (ii) on the institution's website;
127 (b) include information about the institution's free expression policies in an orientation
128 program for students enrolled in the institution; and
129 (c) develop a program, procedures, and materials to ensure that an individual who has
130 responsibility for the discipline or education of a student at the institution understands the
131 institution's free expression policies.
132 (3) An individual described in Subsection (2)(c) includes an institution:
133 (a) administrator;
134 (b) campus police officer;
135 (c) residence life official; and
136 (d) faculty member.
137 (4) An institution shall ensure that a free expression policy is consistent with the
138 provisions of this chapter.