Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ACLU challenges school districts on filtering out gay-related content on school Internet

On August 30, the Washington Times ran a front page story by Cheryl Wetzstein, “ACLU battles schools over gay websites: use of filters a rights issue”, link here.

The ACLU was warned some school districts, such as Prince William County in Virginia (south of Fairfax) that filtering non-sexual websites with information about gay issues would be a First Amendment issue.

Because of the political and legal (even constitutional) aspects of issues like gays in the military (“don’t ask don’t tell” and its repeal), and gay marriage, there is more reason to include gay-related materials in high school social studies curriculum, particularly AP classes. And there may be reasons to discuss HIV and STD’s in both biology and in health and PE classes, as has long been the case.

The ACLU has a story about a similar filtering issue in Missouri, here.

Filtering was also a major component in nine years of litigation over COPA, the Child Online Protection Act, covered in another blog (see Profile).

When I had my fiasco with the Fairfax County Public Schools in October 2005 as a substitute teacher over my own website (look at the “BillBoushka” blog – via Blogger Profile – and go to July 27, 2007 for the details), my “doaskdotell.com” website was never filtered by the school system. Even after the incident, I occasionally found references to it in the logs with the FCPS IP address.

As I reported a few years ago, another FCPS English teacher actually assigned a blogging project in 2006, to the consternation of school officials.

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