Friday, June 5, 2009

Local Schools Allow Access to LGBT Websites

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Students at both Memphis City Schools (MCS) and Shelby County Schools (SCS) will now have access to online information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues, thanks to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit filed against two Middle and East Tennessee school districts.

The lawsuit, filed just over two weeks ago, addressed the use of computer filtering software provided by Education Networks of America at both Nashville Public Schools and Knox County Schools. The software, which blocked access to the websites of national LGBT groups, is used by about 80 percent of the school systems in Tennessee, including MCS and SCS.

As of Thursday, June 4th, schools using the Education Networks of American software will now have access to the websites of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, the Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and Dignity USA (an LGBT Catholic organization). The software continues to block gay chat rooms and adult-themed websites.

The issue was first brought to the ACLU's attention by Andrew Emitt, a high school student from Knoxville. He'd been attempting to research LGBT scholarships on school computers, but was blocked access to certain websites. The ACLU filed suit on May 19th in the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee.

The filtering software is required in public schools according to state law, but it is intended to block students from obscene or harmful information.

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