Whistling Can Be Sexual Harassment, University Says

Rob Shimshock | Education Reporter

A student “whistling in a suggestive manner” can now be accused of sexual harassment, according to a Tennessee State University policy.

Whistling is listed under the sexual harassment examples section of the school’s policy on the complaint and investigation process for discrimination and harassment, The College Fix reported Friday.

Along with “whistling in a suggestive manner,” Tennessee State University lists “suggestive or insulting sounds,” “humor and jokes about sex that denigrate men or women,” and “attempted or actual kissing.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonprofit which concentrates on free speech campus issues, gave the school a “red-light” rating for this policy, as well as others restricting students’ First Amendment rights.

“Very broad categories of speech are banned as harassment, simply because someone might find them suggestively offensive, and that’s something that courts have repeatedly held violates the first amendment,” Samantha Harris, vice president of policy research at FIRE, told The College Fix.

Harris also critiqued the school’s ban on certain jokes and “inappropriate communication.”

“That could really be applied against core political speech, and speech and humor on social and political issues, and really just used to suppress unpopular speech,” she said.

FIRE suggests that the university also violates students’ freedom of assembly with an overly broad policy banning “disruption.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Tennessee State University for comment, but received none in time for press.

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