ACLU demands high schools remove anti-gay filters

“I couldn’t believe my school would block access to perfectly legitimate websites just because they were about LGBT issues,” said Nick Rinehart, a student at Rochester High School in Rochester Hills, Mich. Rinehart was blocked from looking up information on gay-straight alliances with a message that said his search violated Rochester High School’s acceptable use policy. “It’s not fair for the school to try to keep students in the dark about LGBT resources.”

“This is legitimate information that we need to know about,” said Molly Mendenhall, who attends Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo. “We need access to these sites to run our school clubs, to support each other, and to understand current events. Schools shouldn’t be putting limits on our education.”

The ACLU is also sending requests for information about web filtering programs to school districts in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Washington.

The ACLU said that some of the schools in question have configured their web filters to block access to websites pertaining to the National Day of Silence to protest anti-LGBT bullying. However, the filters sometimes allow access to sites that condemn homosexuality or urge LGBT people to try to change their sexual orientation, such as People Can Change.

“Any web filtering at a minimum has to be viewpoint neutral, that’s just a bedrock First Amendment principle,” said Block.

The ACLU has given the schools until April 4 to respond.

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