May 13, 2019: Recent survey of college students reveals gender, race, sexual orientation, and religion divides in attitudes about hate speech.

The Knight Foundation released a new report, “Free Expression on College Campuses,” that examines students’ views on topic like hate speech and inclusion.

In conjunction with College Pulse, a mobile-first polling platform, Knight surveyed 4,407 full-time college students enrolled in four-year degree programs in December 2018.

The results revealed that while nearly all students support First Amendment rights, they are sharply divided by gender, race, sexual orientation, and religion over protections for hate speech.

Among the key findings:

Most college men (74 percent) support hate speech protections under the First Amendment compared to less than half (46 percent) of college women. Fewer than half of black students (48 percent), Jewish students (45 percent), gay and lesbian students (35 percent) and gender non-binary students (29 percent) say hate speech should be protected under the First Amendment.

When asked if protecting extreme forms of speech is more important than promoting an inclusive society, 71 percent of college men favor protecting free speech over inclusivity, while 58 percent of college women favor inclusivity over free speech protections. More than six in ten black students and slightly less than half of Hispanic students say that promoting inclusivity is more important than protecting speech.  And along religious lines, a majority of Christians favor free speech over inclusivity, while a majority of Jewish students (65 percent) and Muslim, Hindi, and Buddhist (60 percent) says that promoting a welcoming, inclusive society takes precedent over free speech protections.

There is, however, some common ground among students. While a vast majority of college students say that it is acceptable to protest invited speakers on campus, an overwhelming majority (83 percent) say that using violence to stop a speaker is always unacceptable.

 

Medium Free Expression on College Campuses Report