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ACLU demands high schools remove anti-gay filters

Organization says the schools' filtering policies are discriminatory and could harm LGBT youth

The ACLU is urging schools to remove web filters blocking access to legitimate LGBT websites.

Several public high schools on March 28 received letters from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as local ACLU arms from Michigan, Kansas, and western Missouri, demanding that those schools stop using web filters to eliminate access to websites that support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.

The ACLU says it learned that the schools were censoring material after teaming with Yale Law School to launch the “Don’t Filter Me” campaign, which asks students to check to see if their schools are blocking content.

“Under the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA), schools are already required to filter out adult-oriented or sexually explicit materials,” said Joshua Block, an ACLU staff attorney for the LGBT and AIDS Project. “What’s happening at these schools is that in addition to filtering out [those sites], they have an additional filter they’re using and that filter is designed to filter out LGBT content.”

Block said that the filters remove sites that act as positive backing for LGBT students, such as Gay-Straight Alliance websites or other support groups.

“At the same time, they’re letting in content that’s very harmful to LGBT students, like reparative therapy and ex-gay sites, and what’s happening is that because of these viewpoints [and] discriminatory filters, the school is perfectly fine letting kids see material about homosexuality that is anti-gay, but at the same time they’re blocking the students from seeing supportive websites,” he said.

The ACLU asserts that programs blocking all LGBT content violate the First Amendment right to free speech, as well as the Equal Access Act, which requires equal access to school resources for all extracurricular clubs. This means that gay-straight alliances and LGBT support groups must have the same access to national organizational websites as other groups, such as the Key Club and the chess club.

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Comments:

  1. bbumpus

    March 29, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I agree with the ACLU on unblocking these sites. It is frustrating to me, as a school counselor, that these websites are blocked at school. When I have students come in my office who are questioning their sexuality, they usually don’t have any support at home. When I try to access information about support groups, etc., those sites are blocked, and I have to scramble to get information. I have also tried to access information about the Trevor Project and the National Day of Silence, which are also blocked. Statistically, gay and lesbian teens are more likely to be bullied and commit suicide than their peers. It would be nice for educators to have access to websites to help support their students.

  2. bbumpus

    March 29, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I agree with the ACLU on unblocking these sites. It is frustrating to me, as a school counselor, that these websites are blocked at school. When I have students come in my office who are questioning their sexuality, they usually don’t have any support at home. When I try to access information about support groups, etc., those sites are blocked, and I have to scramble to get information. I have also tried to access information about the Trevor Project and the National Day of Silence, which are also blocked. Statistically, gay and lesbian teens are more likely to be bullied and commit suicide than their peers. It would be nice for educators to have access to websites to help support their students.

  3. dbaltimore

    March 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Ridiculous!!!!! LGBT is about sexual orientation- and yes SEX. Therefore, why is this a problem to filter out on websites at school when it is all sexual related content gay or straight being filtered. It is ridiculous!!!! I am a parent as well as an educator and I will pull my kids from public education the day that schools have to listen to this crap from the ACLU! Let the schools have all the sexual content you ACLU followers want because the rest of us won’t be teaching or putting our children in that environment. It’s not about ‘tolerance’. You don’t want to tolerate any other views when you act as if we all must have it pushed upon us!
    I don’t want to even see the junk out there that is about straight ‘relationships’. Their reasoning is just not going to cut it in all of these districts. And if it does, there will be BIG issues over it.
    What a shame. Don’t let them push you around and tell you what you can have student viewing inappropriately at school. Stand up, school districts, and say NO!

  4. dbaltimore

    March 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Ridiculous!!!!! LGBT is about sexual orientation- and yes SEX. Therefore, why is this a problem to filter out on websites at school when it is all sexual related content gay or straight being filtered. It is ridiculous!!!! I am a parent as well as an educator and I will pull my kids from public education the day that schools have to listen to this crap from the ACLU! Let the schools have all the sexual content you ACLU followers want because the rest of us won’t be teaching or putting our children in that environment. It’s not about ‘tolerance’. You don’t want to tolerate any other views when you act as if we all must have it pushed upon us!
    I don’t want to even see the junk out there that is about straight ‘relationships’. Their reasoning is just not going to cut it in all of these districts. And if it does, there will be BIG issues over it.
    What a shame. Don’t let them push you around and tell you what you can have student viewing inappropriately at school. Stand up, school districts, and say NO!

  5. bob085

    March 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I know I will probably get slammed for this, but people wake up!! The Gay life style is at its’ core, anti-life. It is not supported in any realm; either Evolution or Creationism. A man and man cannot produce a life. Nor can a woman and a woman produce a life. It takes a male and a female in almost every life form above the amoeba to reproduce. Do we want to encourage our children to pursue and accept a life style that; if allowed to proceed unchecked to its’ ultimate end, could lead to the eventual end of the Human Race? This really isn’t too far fetched. Some of the greatest empires and cultures in the world, (Roman and Greece for example), destroyed themselves from within by accepting homosexuality and loose morality in their every day lives. America is going down the same road. If we agree that we should support our children’s right to accept the gay life style and allow them to visit sites that support it, then we might as well allow them to go to sites that support suicide. Okay. I’ve said my peace and will likely get slammed or this post will be disallowed, but I wish people could look beyond the pleasure of a few minutes and see the potential for distruction. We have a responsibility to protect our children even from themselves.

  6. bob085

    March 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I know I will probably get slammed for this, but people wake up!! The Gay life style is at its’ core, anti-life. It is not supported in any realm; either Evolution or Creationism. A man and man cannot produce a life. Nor can a woman and a woman produce a life. It takes a male and a female in almost every life form above the amoeba to reproduce. Do we want to encourage our children to pursue and accept a life style that; if allowed to proceed unchecked to its’ ultimate end, could lead to the eventual end of the Human Race? This really isn’t too far fetched. Some of the greatest empires and cultures in the world, (Roman and Greece for example), destroyed themselves from within by accepting homosexuality and loose morality in their every day lives. America is going down the same road. If we agree that we should support our children’s right to accept the gay life style and allow them to visit sites that support it, then we might as well allow them to go to sites that support suicide. Okay. I’ve said my peace and will likely get slammed or this post will be disallowed, but I wish people could look beyond the pleasure of a few minutes and see the potential for distruction. We have a responsibility to protect our children even from themselves.

  7. vokrasinski

    March 30, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Perhaps if we worried a little less about our students’ sex lives and a little more about their reading, critical thinking and math skills, we might produce graduates that can contribute something to society other than their sexual selves.

  8. vokrasinski

    March 30, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Perhaps if we worried a little less about our students’ sex lives and a little more about their reading, critical thinking and math skills, we might produce graduates that can contribute something to society other than their sexual selves.

  9. bbumpus

    March 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Even with the filters we have now at school, students who want to access inappropriate material are accessing it. So no one is pushing anything on anyone. My job as a school counselor is to teach student the aspects of having healthy relationships, whether they be platonic or otherwise, straight or gay. And yes, it would be nice to focus on just reading, critical thinking, and math skills, but some students have issues they are dealing with that must be resolved before they can learn. With some students, this issue is homosexuality. I don’t promote an alternative lifestyle to these students, but I certain do make sure that they have support, especially if they are not getting it at home. Access to these websites would allow me to look up a support group, or give them a number or hotline to call if they are feeling suicidial. I would tell the naysayers to educate yourselves on the content of the exact website before you condemn all of them. I’m sure there are many inappropriate “gay” websites as there are “straight”. But not allowing access to any of them is an atrocity to a number of our students seeking support.

  10. bbumpus

    March 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Even with the filters we have now at school, students who want to access inappropriate material are accessing it. So no one is pushing anything on anyone. My job as a school counselor is to teach student the aspects of having healthy relationships, whether they be platonic or otherwise, straight or gay. And yes, it would be nice to focus on just reading, critical thinking, and math skills, but some students have issues they are dealing with that must be resolved before they can learn. With some students, this issue is homosexuality. I don’t promote an alternative lifestyle to these students, but I certain do make sure that they have support, especially if they are not getting it at home. Access to these websites would allow me to look up a support group, or give them a number or hotline to call if they are feeling suicidial. I would tell the naysayers to educate yourselves on the content of the exact website before you condemn all of them. I’m sure there are many inappropriate “gay” websites as there are “straight”. But not allowing access to any of them is an atrocity to a number of our students seeking support.

  11. parent2011

    April 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I think that what the ACLU means by the statement that “At the same time, they’re letting in content that’s very harmful to LGBT students, like reparative therapy and ex-gay sites….” is that it’s harmful to their agenda. It just seems odd that a group that advocates students’ rights would so blatantly label repartive therapy and ex-gay sites harmful. If we’re all about access to information, let kids see that side of things as well–let them know that these are legitimate options. Why should we label as “harmful” any information that an individual who DOESN’T want to be gay is trying to access? Is the ACLU afraid that gay kids will change their mind and go straight?

  12. parent2011

    April 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I think that what the ACLU means by the statement that “At the same time, they’re letting in content that’s very harmful to LGBT students, like reparative therapy and ex-gay sites….” is that it’s harmful to their agenda. It just seems odd that a group that advocates students’ rights would so blatantly label repartive therapy and ex-gay sites harmful. If we’re all about access to information, let kids see that side of things as well–let them know that these are legitimate options. Why should we label as “harmful” any information that an individual who DOESN’T want to be gay is trying to access? Is the ACLU afraid that gay kids will change their mind and go straight?

  13. bbumpus

    April 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I agree with you parent 2011, they should be able to access the reparative therapy and ex-gay sites as well, but that should not be the ONLY websites they should be able to access. Right now, access to any site that provides them support or offers a certified counselor that they can speak to is blocked. I really think someone who DOESN’T want to be gay, wouldn’t “be” gay in the first place! I

  14. bbumpus

    April 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I agree with you parent 2011, they should be able to access the reparative therapy and ex-gay sites as well, but that should not be the ONLY websites they should be able to access. Right now, access to any site that provides them support or offers a certified counselor that they can speak to is blocked. I really think someone who DOESN’T want to be gay, wouldn’t “be” gay in the first place! I