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Act Now: Tell Software Companies to Remove Anti-LGBT Web Filters From Schools

Joshua Block,
Senior Staff Attorney,
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June 3, 2011

Over the past few weeks we’ve been able to announce several victories in our Don’t Filter Me initiative to stop censorship of LGBT websites at public schools. Our largest success to date occurred earlier this month when Lightspeed Systems, which produces software used for website filtering in thousands of public schools across the U.S, stepped up to do the right thing. After its customers began receiving complaints from the ACLU, Lightspeed responded to this problem by removing a discriminating filter from its software.

Why haven’t the other leading filtering companies — Blue Coat Systems, M86 Solutions, Fortiguard, Websense and URL Blacklist — taken similar steps to fix this problem? Four out of five of these companies are located in California, where anti-gay censorship in public schools is prohibited not only by federal law, but by state law as well

By continuing to sell anti-LGBT filters to public schools, these companies are hurting their own clients and violating and betraying an important public trust. Web filter companies have enormous power to shape how students are able to learn about the outside world and about themselves. We implicitly trust these filter companies not to create categories that discriminate based on race, gender, religion, or political party — or based on whether a website is “LGBT.”

Help us tell the web-filter companies to remove their anti-LGBT filters. Sign our petition asking the filter companies to stop selling public schools software that is designed to discriminate.

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