The ACLU, in putting out a call for students to check to see if LGBT websites are blocked by their schools, found a lot more violations of free speech and equal access than one would think. And they didn't just find schools that accidentally blocked LGBT websites with overzealous child-safety software; they found intentional viewpoint discrimination:
Since launching the "Don't Filter Me" initiative, the ACLU has identified several web-filter companies whose products are designed to filter out LGBT websites. Some of these include:
- The Bluecoat software used by the Vineland School District in New Jersey and the Prince William County Schools in Virginia has a specialized filter called "LGBT."
- The Websense software used by Columbus City Schools in Ohio, Wayne-Westland Community Schools in Michigan and the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District in Texas has a filter called "Gay or Lesbian or Bisexual Issues."
- The Lightspeed software used by the Northfield School District in Minnesota, the North Kansas City School District in Missouri and the Downingtown School District in PA include LGBT sites in a filter called "education.lifestyles," which is defined as "Education about lifestyles -- gay, lesbian, alternate."
That means someone, or a group of someones, decided that pro-LGBT content should not be viewed by students in those schools, probably because of a paternalistic desire to control other people's sexual behavior, or at least make them feel bad about their sexual orientation since often these schools allow access to anti-gay information online.