Public high school students in Billings, Montana tell CounterPunch that as of Monday, January 14, they have been denied access to numerous sites, including those associated with pro-LGBTQ issues, as part of a new web filtering program initiated by the school administration. Anti-gay sites, however, appear to be accessible.
In an email to staff, Brandon Newpher, Chief Information/Executive Director of Technology for Billings Public Schools, explained that “stricter web/internet filtering will be implemented as a way to improve network security and help protect students and staff.”
Currently, Human Rights Watch and GLAAD are inaccessible to students for what the filer describes as being in the category of “AlternativeSexualLifestyles(GLBT)”. A list of blocked keywords and subjects have been leaked to CounterPunch, but the totality of sites affected is not clear. Students say they are still uncovering websites that have been impacted.
According to the ACLU, “blocking all LGBT content violates students’ First Amendment rights to free speech. They also violate the Equal Access Act, which requires equal access to school resources for all extracurricular clubs, including gay-straight alliances and LGBT support groups.” Read more via CounterPunch