Montana School Blocks Pro-LGBT Websites

As of January 14th, 2019, high school students in Billings, Montana are no longer able to access certain websites, such as pro-LGBTQ ones, but anti-gay websites are still available, according to CounterPunch.

Brandon Newpher, the Chief Information and Executive Director of Technology for Billings Public Schools, explained that by filtering certain content, network security will be improved and students and staff will be better protected. However, websites for the Human Rights Watch and GLAAD, both pro-LGBT websites, have been blocked under the category of Alternative Sexual Lifestyles(GLBT). Those websites are apparently not in compliance with the filtering requirements in the Children's Internet Protection Act. While there are categories such as child abuse materials and terrorism, that make sense to be filtered, websites attempting to spread equal rights have no logical reason to be banned. 

The ACLU criticized Newpher's decision to block pro-LGBT websites as they claim that denying access to such websites violates students' right to free speech and also violates the Equal Access Act, which allows students to have equal access to all extracurricular activities, like a GSA or other LGBT support groups. 

Jay Kaplan, the ACLU of Michigan LGBT Project staff attorney, says that blocking such websites is wrong and illegal because they "provide much-needed support and resources for LGBT youth during a critical time of their lives" and that blocking them send the message to LGBT students that their voices do not deserve to be heard. 

Pro-LGBTQ websites do not harm anyone and in fact, can help both LGBTQ and heterosexual people become more open-minded about sexuality in general. There really isn't any logical reason why Billings public schools would block these. I suspect foul play…


h/t: CounterPunch

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