A Missouri education group will no longer include an "alternate lifestyles" filter barring student access to online content following a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet), which provides filtering software to 100 school districts in the state, had been notified by the ACLU that "there were things going on with the filter that were not intended," the network's executive director, John Gillespie, told WSJ's Law Blog late Friday. As a result, MOREnet will no longer use the filter as a default option, though individual school districts can make their own decisions on filter use, he said. Pornographic content, whether gay or straight, will continue to be blocked.
"MOREnet should be commended for acting quickly and responsibly once we alerted them to this problem," ACLU of Eastern Missouri Tony Rothert said in a statement. "We hope that other schools and libraries follow MOREnet's example and make sure that their filtering systems are not accidentally configured to block non-sexual websites that relate to LGBT people."
The ACLU's response is part of its national "Don't Filter Me" school initiative, which has brought attention to the blocking of websites for LGBT organizations such as the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). "Filters that needlessly discriminate against LGBT websites do not serve the interest of public schools or the students they serve," ACLU staff attorney Joshua Block said in a statement.