Gay-Straight Alliance Gets Filters Removed

     DALLAS (CN) – Officials in two Texas school districts have agreed to stop censoring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Web content, the ACLU said this week. Students from schools in Fort Worth and Baytown contacted the ACLU after finding that websites such as the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and sites that provide resources for LGBT youth in crisis were blocked on school computers.

     The ACLU sent demand letters to both districts as part of its national initiative to prevent censorship of such information on public school computer systems.
     The districts are the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District in Fort Worth and Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District in Baytown.
     The school districts told the ACLU that they investigated and found that their filtering software had been configured to block educational LGBT-related information that is not sexually explicit. The ACLU said filters can be removed without impairing the schools’ ability to block pornographic or sexually explicit content.
     “There is no legitimate reason why any public school should be using an anti-LGBT filter,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project. “Software companies need to make schools understand that these products are programmed specifically to target LGBT-related content that would not otherwise be blocked as inappropriate, and that these types of filters are not required by law.”
     Earlier this year, the North Kansas City School District in Missouri unblocked websites identified by the ACLU and removed their filter.
     Another school in New Jersey voluntarily removed its anti-LGBT filter after receiving student complaints and an open records request.
The ACLU says it is investigating complaints about illegal filtering at other Texas schools and plans to send additional letters in coming weeks.

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