Last February, the ACLU LGBT Project launched the "Don't Filter Me" campaign to take on the problem of public schools censoring LGBT-friendly content on the web. Today — which just happens to also be Banned Websites Awareness Day — we released a report describing the enormous progress we have made in a little over six months. The "Don't Filter Me" campaign has been responsible for instituting major changes in school policy nationwide, and has influenced major web software filtering companies to change their products so that they do not block positive LGBT materials.
Our experience with the "Don't Filter Me" campaign so far has helped clarify two important points. First, the vast majority of public schools aren't out to discriminate against particular viewpoints or marginalize their LGBT students. They use filtering software because they need students to be able to find appropriate educational information on the web without viewing porn at school. Software companies can, and should, provide these schools with unbiased, viewpoint-neutral filtering that helps them serve students' needs. A software company that sells a product with an anti-LGBT category is setting its customers up to break the law — a major disservice to its customers and to the students those customers serve.
Second, public school administrators and teachers should take the time to educate themselves about the filtering software their district is using. Filtering software isn't perfect, and some types of software are more imperfect than others. Administrators and teachers have to "look under the hood" to make sure they're not needlessly and illegally blocking student access to important resources.
So far, we've gotten 96 schools in 24 states that were blocking student access to pro-LGBT websites to fix their filter configurations — which means 144,670 students who didn't have access to sites like GLSEN, GSA Network, PFLAG, and the It Gets Better Project now can visit those sites. Check out our report for more details on what we've accomplished!