ACLU seeks stop to Northfield school’s censoring of LGBT web content

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is demanding that the Northfield School District stop filtering LGBT internet content on the district’s computers. Calling it unconstitutional, the group sent a letter to the district calling for a halt to the filtering as well as a data practices request to identify how the filters got put into place. The move is part of the ACLU’s broader “Don’t Filter Me” project to prevent filtering of LGBT content.

”LGBT youth face a lot of challenges growing up in today’s society. The websites that are being filtered by Northfield are important resources for LGBT teens to go to for support and help, it is unfortunate that they would block these sites,” said ACLU-MN attorney Teresa Nelson in a statement.

The ACLU received a tip from Northfield students that the computers were filtering LGBT resources. Northfield uses a software called Lightspeed which contains a filter called “education.lifestyles” defined as “Education about lifestyles — gay, lesbian, alternate.”

Already the campaign has been successful in getting those filters removed from a Kansas City school district, and the ACLU has identified filters in Virginia, Ohio and New Jersey.

“There is no legitimate reason why any public school should be using an anti-LGBT filter,” Joshua Block of the ACLU LGBT Project said. “This is not a case where overbroad filters are accidentally filtering out LGBT websites. These filters are designed to discriminate and are programmed specifically to target LGBT-related content that would not otherwise be blocked as sexually explicit or inappropriate. Public schools have a duty to provide students with viewpoint-neutral access to the Internet.”