Can't say we didn't warn them. Back in May, as part of our Don't Filter Me project, the ACLU sent a letter to the Camdenton School District informing them that the web filters they use on school computers were unconstitutionally blocking access to hundreds of LGBT websites, including sites that contain anti-bullying information and other resources for student gay-straight alliances. We informed them that if they failed to disable the filter, they would be "subject to legal liability and the expense of litigation…"

The school district brushed us off. So today, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of four of the organizations whose sites are being blocked by the district's filter: PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays), the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Campus Pride and DignityUSA, a Catholic LGBT organization. At the same time, the filter does not block access to comparable anti-LGBT websites that address that discuss the same topics. Our lawsuit charges that Camdenton's web filter violates the First Amendment.

The past year has seen a horrible spate of suicides among youth in the LGBT community. Web content provided by these four organizations can be life-saving for young LGBT students. As Jody Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG National, said in a statement today:

Our Safe Schools program resources, coming-out guides and other support and education resources that we have been providing to LGBT young people nationwide for nearly 40 years are all blocked. Many LGBT students either don’t have access to the Internet at home or, if they do, they don’t feel safe accessing this information on their home computers. In order to ensure the physical and mental well-being of LGBT youth — especially given the wide access to negative information on LGBT issues — these resources must be accessible.

A comprehensive 2009 study of over 7,000 middle and high school students reported that nine out of 10 LGBT students say they had experienced harassment at their school in the past year based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and two-thirds said they felt unsafe at school because of who they are.

Our public schools should be doing everything they can to support LGBT students. That includes providing them with information and support. While the ACLU pushes for schools and software filtering companies to do the right thing and address the problem of filtering LGBT content, you can act too: tell your members of Congress to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). SNDA will help to ensure that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students has no place in our country’s public schools.

Learn more about free speech and LGBT rights: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

View comments (11)
Read the Terms of Use


No comments...really????? Or just no comments that you wish to have posted. Is screening comments in line with what you stand for? Or will you only post comments that agree with what you state...aha! Got it, didn't I?


The fact that students have unfettered access to anti-LGBT sites is the smoking gun here. When education and visibility are the primary vehicles for acceptance (or tolerance, at least) it is appalling that a school would interfere with that.


If there's going to be bitching about specifically blocked websites, then the school just needs to remove the entire PRIVELEDGE of using the internet and ALL of its contents. Way to ruin it for everybody!


If you want to find the pinnacle of stupid, look to a school to fill that role every time.

Maybe if we all had the *privilege* we could spell on the internets. Removing access would hamper education fail troll.


Who pays ACLU for these petty, frivolous law suits? 90% of the US lawyers ought to find a job where they are doing something useful.


I think this is great. This school district has a history of being unfriendly toward the lgbt community and they need to be brought into the modern age.

Silver Fang

The Net should never be censored for any reason.


"The Net should never be censored for any reason."

Yeah, so every child in school can look at porn whenever they want to. Great idea!!


of course they are blocked, whats to gaurentee that there wont be gay or lesbo porn on those sites

don't you have more "important" things to do, like shutting down evangelical Christian churches?


I'd love to hear a logical reason why this lawsuit isn't fantastic. Anything BESIDES bigotry? Didn't think so.


Stay Informed