Local Schools Allow Access to LGBT Websites

Posted by Bianca Phillips on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Students at both Memphis City Schools (MCS) and Shelby County Schools (SCS) will now have access to online information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues, thanks to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit filed against two Middle and East Tennessee school districts.

The lawsuit, filed just over two weeks ago, addressed the use of computer filtering software provided by Education Networks of America at both Nashville Public Schools and Knox County Schools. The software, which blocked access to the websites of national LGBT groups, is used by about 80 percent of the school systems in Tennessee, including MCS and SCS.

As of Thursday, June 4th, schools using the Education Networks of American software will now have access to the websites of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, the Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and Dignity USA (an LGBT Catholic organization). The software continues to block gay chat rooms and adult-themed websites.

The issue was first brought to the ACLU's attention by Andrew Emitt, a high school student from Knoxville. He'd been attempting to research LGBT scholarships on school computers, but was blocked access to certain websites. The ACLU filed suit on May 19th in the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee.

The filtering software is required in public schools according to state law, but it is intended to block students from obscene or harmful information.

Comments (6)

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Thank you Mr Emmitt, well done.

Posted by Tseneau on 06/05/2009 at 11:05 PM

Andrew Emitt and the ACLU both did good things here. I hope to sponsor or help sponsor a Transsexual Scholarship within the next few years. I know of none at this time. It would also be great to see more LGBT based schools such as Harvey Milk High School in New York.
Kudos Emitt!

Posted by September Meadows on 06/06/2009 at 7:24 PM

This law violates the parents first amendment right of freedom of association and what speech they deem appropriate for their child. A child is impressionable and the access to this information may be damaging to their belief system. If one allows access to LGBT behavior, where do we draw the line in allowing details on all types of behavior, i.e. murder, theft, slander, etc.? This slippery-slope allows the child to study and be influenced in all these forms of behavior. This again would violate parent's rights.

Posted by CHG on 06/07/2009 at 6:54 AM

When will people stop referring to LGBT as a "behavioral system?" Or a "belief system?" Reading about LGBT people is vital to understanding LGBT people. And I don't think the LGBT community is recruiting new members; it's a lifetime membership kinda deal. If you're L, G, B, T, or Q(ueer/uestioning), you belong to the community.

To compare being LGBTQ to behavior lending itself to murder, theft, slander (???), etc. is just--frankly--idiocy.

Posted by jlcrowe on 06/07/2009 at 8:23 AM

And would you expect anything else from one of Memphis' most prolific violators of the 8th Commandment?

Posted by Tseneau on 06/08/2009 at 7:58 PM

CHG, this in no way violates any parental rights any more than allowing access to Christian websites violates the rights of Jewish parents. This is publicly funded school system. If you want to restrict your child from accessing the internet on certain topics, homeschool or private school them. Public schools serve the diverse community that pays taxes to support them, and as such have a responsibility to provide access to information on a variety of subjects. The high school student who brought this to the ACLU was researching LGBT scholarships to college, and could not access them. The software did not restrict access to finding Catholic or Baptist scholarships, or African-American scholarships or Asian scholarships, all of those could be searched for easily. Typing in 'LGBT college scholarship" was blocked. You have the freedom to practice your religion as you see fit as long as you do not infringe on the rights of others to pursue their rights.

Posted by BlissLaw on 06/08/2009 at 8:29 PM
Showing 1-6 of 6

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