A federal judge has ordered a Missouri school to cease blocking internet content that affirms LGBT people and educates about LGBT identities. The ACLU of Eastern Missouri had filed suit last summer on behalf of PFLAG and other LGBT groups against Camdenton R-III School District for using a website filtering software that blocked access to sites like the “It Gets Better” campaign, The Trevor Project, and the Gay Straight Alliance Network. Sites that condemn LGBT people and promote harmful ex-gay therapy were allowed, however, because they were categorized under “religion” instead of “sexuality.” The judge found that the school’s filter, URL Blacklist, constituted viewpoint discrimination and granted a preliminary injunction. From the ruling:
The record contains direct evidence that Camdenton intended to discriminate based on viewpoint. Superintended Hadfield agreed at the hearing that school board member John Beckett has expressed “concern with students accessing websites saying it’s okay to be gay.” At a public school board meeting, Mr. Beckett stated that “the amended policy may not have gone far enough,” and that he would like to require parental consent before allowing students to access these sites… These statements are direct evidence that Camdenton continued to use URL Blacklist, despite it being ineffective and falling below professional standards, out of an intent to continue to burden websites expressing a positive viewpoint toward LGBT individuals.
Camdenton has 30 days to discontinue its current internet-filter system to comply with the order. As this is only a preliminary injunction, the ACLU’s case against the district will still proceed. In addition, the group’s “Don’t Filter Me” campaign continues to reach out to school districts across the country and encourages them to adjust their settings so as not to censor LGBT-friendly resources.