Blogs » According to K » Should students be allowed access to gay/lesbian websites?

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A school district in a small, Mid-Missouri town could be setting the precedent for laws concerning students' access to educational websites about gay, lesbian and transgender issues.

Camdenton, Mo. schools are refusing to cave to letters from the American Civil Liberties Union demanding that filters blocking LGBT sites be removed. The superintendent of schools said the administration blocks specific sites it deems inappropriate and that filters are set up to block access to pornographic material.

But free speech and equal rights advocates say an ACLU federal lawsuit against the school district has nothing to do with access to pornography. They argue Camdenton is censoring websites supportive of LGBT rights while allowing access to similar sites that are anti-LGBT.

Blocked sites include the Matthew Shepard Foundation -- a site that promotes tolerance and respect for differences in memory of a 21-year-old gay man who was believed to have been tortured and killed in 1998 for his sexual orientation.

Also blocked is Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays National, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

The ACLU contends it supports blocking explicit content but is against blanket filters that cover whole topics, especially educational sites.

One Missouri consortium that provides filtering software to 100 school districts in the state has removed the “Alternative Lifestyles” block on its software at the behest of the ACLU.

So, who's right? The school district or the ACLU?

Should students be allowed access to non-sexually explicit websites dealing with LGBT issues?