Don't Filter Me: Interim Report

Document Date: September 28, 2011

In February of 2011 the ACLU launched the “Don’t Filter Me” campaign to prevent viewpointdiscriminatory censorship of positive LGBT web content in public schools nationwide.

Many public schools use web filtering software to block students’ access to pornographic websites, in accordance with federal law. Unfortunately, many of the most commonly used web filtering software packages include a special category for websites that contain information about LGBT issues and organizations, even though the websites are not sexually explicit in any way. When public school districts block these LGBT categories, preventing students from accessing websites for positive LGBT rights organizations, they often still allow access to anti-LGBT sites that condemn LGBT people or urge us to try to change our sexual orientation. This viewpoint discrimination violates students’ rights under the First Amendment.

In just six months the ACLU, through the “Don’t Filter Me” campaign, has made significant progress on the issue, is responsible for instituting major changes in public school policy nationwide, and has influenced major web software filtering companies to change their products so that they do not block positive LGBT materials. As of September 1 we have:

  • Gotten web filters changed to stop blocking pro-LGBT websites in 96 schools nationwide, improving access to information for 144,670 students
  • Prompted reforms in five of the leading software filtering companies
  • Investigated and confirmed 84 reports of anti-LGBT viewpoint-discriminatory web filtering at public schools in 24 states
  • Implemented a public education strategy around the campaign which led to over 100 news stories about the “Don’t Filter Me” initiative

In the following report we’ll tell you how we did it.

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