A federal judge has ordered a Missouri school district to unblock its web filters and give students access to sexually explicit material by the middle of March.
A US District Judge issued a preliminary junction against the Camdenton R – III School District banning them from using filtering software. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the district claiming it was deliberately restricting access to homosexual themed sites, while allowing students to view what it claims are “anti-LG BT sites that condemn homosexuality.”
In issuing its ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri said the district's custom filtering system "systematically allows access to websites expressing a negative viewpoint toward LGBT individuals by categorizing them as 'religion,' but filters out positive viewpoints toward LGBT issues by categorizing them as 'sexuality.”
Joe Ortwerth, executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council, says, “When you consider that there's a federal law on the books that obligates school districts to ensure that their computers do not allow access to materials that might be pornographic for minors, this judge's action -- considering that -- is pretty shocking.”
The ACLU’s website claims that schools cannot block LGBT sites claiming that to do so is a violation of the First Amendment. “Programs that block all LGBT content violate First Amendment rights to free speech, as well as the Equal Access Act, which requires equal access to school resources for all extracurricular clubs, including gay-straight alliances and LGBT support groups.”
Among the sites the ACLU says students have a right to view is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The site provides a link to “It Gets Better” which is a program advocating the homosexual lifestyle founded by Dan Savage, a “gay” sex columnist.
Savage is known for his vulgar and raunchy columns. He was also responsible for “bullying” Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum by creating a “Google bomb” that attached a vile sex term to the candidate’s name.
The ACLU disputes that it is advocating students be allowed to view pornographic material, however, by disabling the filters in order for students to view “safe sites” sexually explicit sites will be permitted as well.
The Alliance Defense Fund, which filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the school, noted that the “sexuality” filter blocks access to over 8,200 websites of which 7,800 would not be blocked by using the “adult” or “porn” filters and that many of the 7,800 sites contain sexually explicit materials.
The brief provided examples of specific sites that would not be blocked by the filter that provided access to pornographic images and pictures.