ACLU Sues Missouri School District for Filtering Gay Websites
BY Julie Bolcer
August 16 2011 10:45 AM ET
The American Civil Liberties filed suit Monday against a Missouri school district for using filtering software to block students’ access to the websites of LGBT advocacy organizations as if they were pornography.
According to a news release about the lawsuit from the national ACLU and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, “The district’s custom-built filtering software relies on a database of websites compiled by URL Blacklist, which has a viewpoint-neutral category that allows schools to block all sexually explicit content. But it also has a viewpoint-discriminatory category called ‘sexuality,’ which blocks all LGBT-related information, including hundreds of materials that are not sexually explicit. The filter does, however, allow students to view anti-LGBT sites.”
The suit is being filed on behalf of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Campus Pride, and DignityUSA, an organization for LGBT Catholics.
ACLU attorney Joshua Block said that despite initial denials, the Camdenton district has acknowledged in correspondence that it used URL Blacklist as a framework for the filtering software it created, according to Education Week. He said the district took action to unblock four sites that initiated the complaint, including the those for the Day of Silence, the Trevor Project, the GSA Network, and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, but it stopped after that and has been “very intransigent” compared to other school districts that use the same filter.
The superintendent for the school district said it would continue to unblock sites according to student requests, but the content on the sites must accord with district rules. The district has refused to change its software to fix the broader problem, and hundreds of LGBT websites remain blocked, which poses an unreasonable hurdle to students, the ACLU charges.
- WATCH: The Cure for Gay Wedding-Related Depression
- Florida Teen Arrested, Expelled for Same-Sex Relationship
- WATCH: Catholic School Tells Trans Teen 'Wear Girl's Gown or Don't Walk at Graduation'
- The South's Longer Wait for Equality
- The Small Southwestern Town That Went Rogue
- Editor's Letter: Why One Couple's Story Should Worry You
Sign Up For Email Updates
- Theater What Does Jane Lynch Have in Common with Miss Hannigan, Her Role in Broadway's Annie? 1 min 34 sec ago
- Women Chely Wright and Lauren Blitzer Welcome Twins 5 min 34 sec ago
- Health News Calcium Bad, Cinnamon Good, PreP Fails: Baffling Health News 34 min 36 sec ago
- Comics and Graphic Novels Coming Out HIV-Positive in the Comic Book Store 37 min 34 sec ago
- Transgender WATCH: Catholic School Won't Let Trans Grad Wear Men's Garb 1 hour 1 min ago
- Politics Minnesota Antibullying Bill Dies in Senate 1 hour 34 min ago
- Music Q&A Quickie: Colton Ford on Sex, New Music, and The Lair 2 hours 36 min ago