Alex Blaze

ACLU Wants You... to See if Your School Blocks LGBT Websites

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 17, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: ACLU, censorship, internet access, LGBT, LGBT youth, schools

The ACLU is calling on all high school students to see if their schools are illegally blocking LGBT websites. The ACLU got LGBT sites past Tennessee school filters last year suing, and now a Virginia high school student sent them this:


Lots of students don't have access to the internet at home or they may not want to use a shared family computer to access sites like these and risk outing themselves, and they have the right to access this information at school. Many web filters block out LGBT sites for using words like "gay" and "lesbian" based not on an intentional decision but on an algorithm and web administrators might not know that they're blocked. Even Google Instant blocks some LGBT words because they could turn up pornography.

At the same time, though, some schools don't block NARTH and other homophobic websites while blocking LGBT-positive sites, making it viewpoint discrimination. While I'm sure that whoever set that up thinks that they're helping kids stay moral, every authoritarian power that censors information thinks they're protecting the plebes from themselves and that's why we have the First Amendment.

If you're a student at a high school check out your school's computers to see if you can access LGBT websites. Also, check if you're not a high school student and see if your local library, community center, or college blocks LGBT websites, which can be important places for people who aren't in high school but don't have internet access to get information. I couldn't get to Bilerico and a few other queer news sites when I was visiting family and using internet at a public library just a month ago. This isn't just about youth.

Here's a video for how to check your school:

Chances are there are lots more schools out there that block LGBT websites. And chances are that the ones that do it are the ones where students need access more.

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I wish I was in a school so I could check. Someone on Twitter said that DC is blocking some of them. Can anyone verify?