Earlier this week, we were thrilled to announce that California-based software company Lightspeed Systems agreed to remove a web filter that had been blocking public school students' access to LGBT information websites (like It Gets Better and Day of Silence). Lightspeed's web filters are used in more than 2,000 schools in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, covering more than 6 million students, so this is a big deal.
Lightspeed made this move after several of its school clients received letters from our "Don't Filter Me" project, which combats unconstitutional censorship of pro-LGBT information on public school computer systems.
Now that Lightspeed has taken a stand against viewpoint discrimination, we're calling on a handful of other web filtering software companies with public school clients to follow suit. Those companies are Blue Coat Systems, M86 Solutions, Fortiguard, Websense and URL Blacklist. These companies all have anti-LGBT filters that are designed to discriminate against LGBT viewpoints while allowing free access to websites that condemn homosexuality or oppose legal protections for LGBT people.
These anti-LGBT filters can inflict enormous harm on students. By including anti-LGBT filters in their software, these companies are denying students access to important educational resources and support services.
It's also bad for business. Because public schools cannot engage in viewpoint-based censorship, any public school that activates one of these anti-LGBT filters is breaking the law. As Joshua Block, the attorney spearheading the Don't Filter Me project, told the Associated Press yesterday: "[W]hy put your [public school] clients in this precarious position of putting a booby trap in their software that will cause them to violate the constitution?"