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Buchanan v. LSU

From January 2016 to January 2018
Louisiana State Univerity (Public college or university)
Baton Rouge, LA, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Teresa Buchanan
    Faculty/Staff
    Other

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Classroom
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration not protective of speech
    Litigation
    Title IX or other federal statute
  • Incident Status:
    Settled
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes

Summary

On January 21, 2016, tenured education professor Teresa Buchanan filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the president of Louisiana State University and other top administrators for violating her free speech and due process rights by firing her in 2015.  Buchanan was fired for her alleged occasional use of profanity and sexual language in preparing her adult students to be effective teachers. LSU claimed Buchanan’s teaching methods violated its policy prohibiting “sexual harassment” of students, which defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical behavior of a sexual nature.”  LSU’s policy mirrors the language of the sexual harassment definition propagated by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice in 2013 as “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country.” On January 12, 2018, a U.S. District judge dismissed the case, stating that Buchanan’s use of profanity and discussions regarding her own sex life and the sex lives of her students in the classroom did not constitute First Amendment protected speech, were not matters of public concern, and were not, as claimed by Buchanan, part of her overall pedagogical strategy for teaching preschool and elementary education to students.  There is an appeal pending in the 5th Circuit– Buchanan v. Alexander et. al, No. 3:16-CV-41 (5th Cir. 2018) (appeal pending).