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Don’t Filter Me!: ACLU Campaigns to Get Positive LGBT Websites Unblocked in Schools

Don’t Filter Me!: ACLU Campaigns to Get Positive LGBT Websites Unblocked in Schools

In a new campaign called “Don’t Filter Me” the ACLU together with Yale Law School is conducting a nationwide survey of American students to find out which schools are unconstitutionally blocking LGBT-affirming websites with a mind to changing that situation. 

From the ACLU press release:

The campaign asks students to check to see if web content geared toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities – a frequent target of censorship in schools – is blocked by their schools’ web browsers. Students can report instances of censorship to the ACLU LGBT Project.

“Students may not realize that it actually is illegal for their schools to block educational and political content geared toward the LGBT community,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project. “With this initiative, we hope to inform students of their rights, and let them know there is something they can do if their school is engaging in censorship.”

Programs that block all LGBT content violate First Amendment rights to free speech, as well as the Equal Access Act, which requires equal access to school resources for all extracurricular clubs, including gay-straight alliances and LGBT support groups. Some schools have improperly configured their web filters to block access to websites for LGBT rights organizations such as the GSA Network and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, but allow access to sites that condemn homosexuality or urge LGBT people to try to change their sexual orientation, such as People Can Change. Some schools have also improperly configured their web filters to block news items pertaining to issues like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and deny access to support groups that could be vital for troubled LGBT youth who either don’t have access to the Internet at home, or do not feel safe accessing such information on their home computers.

“Schools harm students by denying them vital information,” said Block. “Schools not only have a legal duty to allow students access to these sites, it is also imperative that LGBT youth who are experiencing discrimination and bullying be able to access this information for their own safety.”

The ACLU has released a video showing students how to test whether or not their school is illegally filtering content, and provides instructions for reporting censorship.

Watch the video below:

The LGBT-affirming websites the ACLU would like checked are (click the link and the page will open in a new tab):

The anti-LGBT websites the ACLU would like checked are (click the link and the page will open in a new tab):

If these websites are blocked, participants can fill out a form at a secure page on the ACLU website (click this link). Participants must be over the age of 13 and should read and make sure they understand the information at the bottom of the survey as to what will be done with the data they submit.

You can find further LGBT-school related resources at the ACLU’s dedicated page here.

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7:07PM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

Card-carrying member of the ACLU here.

I wish they could check for access to sites about reproductive rights, such as Planned Parenthood.

7:29PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

its such a shame schools are doing this. when i was in high school we had access to these types of sites which made a big difference making sense of things while coming out to myself

7:37PM PDT on Mar 15, 2011

Again, I'm proud to be a card-carrying member of the ACLU. Smart of them to enlist students to do the checking and just the kind of thing to point out discrepancies.

I am sick and tired of children getting hurt because of narrow-mindedness. Instead of censuring or taking a middle-road approach, school administrators should be positively PROTECTING these students. They are not acting like adults, who are supposed to be MORE enlightened and to be advocates for children and their safety. I want to see some grown-ups as our school administrators. (it's all politics, not their main responsibility, which is our children)

1:22PM PDT on Mar 13, 2011

amazing we will allow hate groups to have their say and block out gay acceptance groups because obviously the attitude of public schools is neutral when it comes to issues of religion and politics,They either need to allow both or block both but i doubt block both would go over well with either group. so, really you have to allow both or you are violating the students civil rights

4:58PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Having access to information is NOT an instuctional device on " How To Do It " !

4:56PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Great post .
Thank You !

4:04PM PST on Feb 24, 2011

I was unaware of the issue so thanks for posting the article. I am also grateful there is an organization adressing the issue. Freedom of speech must be protected!

7:12AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

I truly hope this campaign succeeds.

8:16AM PST on Feb 22, 2011

May they win this fight. Terrible that they have to fight for what are clearly their right to information.

10:25PM PST on Feb 21, 2011

Growing up is hard enough without a child being made to feel that there is something wrong with them, that they are not "normal" and, therefore, they are unacceptable. The capacity for pain at this age is immense and all children should be made to feel welcome in this world. How can they learn to respect and accept themselves if the very information that would open their eyes is denied to them? I have seen LGBT teens suffer so needlessly just because they did not feel accepted by their family and friends and couldn't accept themselves. What a waste of talented and capable human beings.

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