ACLU Advocacy Forces CCSD to Disable Discriminatory Internet Filtering Software

LAS VEGAS, NV – Students in the Clark County School District (CCSD) are now able to access websites with positive information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals on their schools’ computers. The ACLU of Nevada advocated for CCSD officials to stop the censorship of positive, non-pornographic LGBT web content, which had previously been blocked to students.

“Although the First Amendment does not require the school district to provide students with Internet access, once a school district does so, it may not selectively censor access to websites based on particular viewpoints,” said Staci Pratt, Legal Director for the ACLU of Nevada.

The issue arose when the ACLU of Nevada requested public information from CCSD about its web filtering policies. Based on materials received in response to that request, the ACLU of Nevada discovered that CCSD had been categorically blocking student access to “LGBT” and “Alternative Spirituality/Belief” websites.

Through a series of letters to the ACLU of Nevada culminating in a February 11, 2013 decision, CCSD has agreed to remove both the “LGBT” filter and the “Alternative Spirituality/Belief” categorical screen.

“This is a victory for LGBT students, as well every other CCSD student,” Pratt observed. “When students have access to different ideas and viewpoints, they are better prepared for active participation in society.”

The LGBT filter prevented students from accessing “[s]ites that provide information regarding, support, promote, or cater to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sites.”

The “Alternative Spirituality/Belief” filter prevented student access to educational and age-appropriate websites covering a “wide range of non-traditional and/or non-religious spiritual, existential, experimental, and philosophical belief systems.” Notably, even though the School District blocked “Alternative Spirituality/Belief” related web sites, it continued to allow access to “Religion,” or websites representing mainstream and traditional religious views, as well as information on “churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship.”

Information about the ACLU’s nationwide “Don’t Filter Me” campaign to remove viewpoint-discriminatory filters from public schools is available at: http://www.aclu.org/dont-filter-me-web-content-filtering-schools