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Federal Coordination and Compliance Section

20 USC 4071

TITLE 20--EDUCATION

CHAPTER 52--EDUCATION FOR ECONOMIC SECURITY

SUBCHAPTER VIII--EQUAL ACCESS


Sec. 4071. Denial of equal access prohibited

(a) Restriction of limited open forum on basis of religious, political,
philosophical, or other speech content prohibited

It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives
Federal financial assistance and which has a limited open forum to deny
equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any
students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on
the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content
of the speech at such meetings.

(b) ``Limited open forum'' defined

A public secondary school has a limited open forum whenever such
school grants an offering to or opportunity for one or more
noncurriculum related student groups to meet on school premises during
noninstructional time.

(c) Fair opportunity criteria

Schools shall be deemed to offer a fair opportunity to students who
wish to conduct a meeting within its limited open forum if such school
uniformly provides that--
(1) the meeting is voluntary and student-initiated;
(2) there is no sponsorship of the meeting by the school, the
government, or its agents or employees;
(3) employees or agents of the school or government are present
at religious meetings only in a nonparticipatory capacity;
(4) the meeting does not materially and substantially interfere
with the orderly conduct of educational activities within the
school; and
(5) nonschool persons may not direct, conduct, control, or
regularly attend activities of student groups.

(d) Construction of subchapter with respect to certain rights

Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to authorize the
United States or any State or political subdivision thereof--
(1) to influence the form or content of any prayer or other
religious activity;
(2) to require any person to participate in prayer or other
religious activity;
(3) to expend public funds beyond the incidental cost of
providing the space for student-initiated meetings;
(4) to compel any school agent or employee to attend a school
meeting if the content of the speech at the meeting is contrary to
the beliefs of the agent or employee;
(5) to sanction meetings that are otherwise unlawful;
(6) to limit the rights of groups of students which are not of a
specified numerical size; or
(7) to abridge the constitutional rights of any person.

(e) Federal financial assistance to schools unaffected

Notwithstanding the availability of any other remedy under the
Constitution or the laws of the United States, nothing in this
subchapter shall be construed to authorize the United States to deny or
withhold Federal financial assistance to any school.

(f) Authority of schools with respect to order, discipline, well-being,
and attendance concerns

Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to limit the authority
of the school, its agents or employees, to maintain order and discipline
on school premises, to protect the well-being of students and faculty,
and to assure that attendance of students at meetings is voluntary.

(Pub. L. 98-377, title VIII, Sec. 802, Aug. 11, 1984, 98 Stat. 1302.)


Short Title

Section 801 of title VIII of Pub. L. 98-377 provided that: ``This
title [enacting this subchapter] may be cited as `The Equal Access
Act'.''


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This page was last updated on November 13, 2000

General Information Federal Coordination and Compliance
Federal Coordination and Compliance
Title VI Hotline: 1-888-TITLE-06
(1-888-848-5306) (Voice / TTY)
Leadership
Deeana Jang
Chief
Contact
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, NWB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

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