States where ACLU wants filters taken off school computers
A campaign has been launched to halt an effort by the ACLU to pressure schools to open their Internet filtering options for children to allow sites such as polybi.com, where a woman’s naked torso is fondled by three hands; gaydatingtips.com, which advertises a see-through boxer for men; and gayquestions.com/hc3.asp, where students would see an image of two naked men apparently engaged in a sex act.
“It goes without saying that our nation’s public school districts should not permit minors access to the type of sexually inappropriate internet content described,” said a letter from the Alliance Defense Fund. “Yet this is exactly what the ACLU is demanding by threatening to sue the district unless it disables the LGBT filter.”
The ADF had written to officials at the Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia about the issue.
Chara Fisher Jackson, legal director for the ACLU of Georgia, wrote Supt. J. Alvin Wilbanks to warn him that the district’s Internet filter that blocks “LGBT” websites “violates the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act.”
The ADF countered that school districts “shouldn’t be bullied into exposing students to sexually explicit materials.”
David Cortman, senior counsel for ADF, said the “latest scare tactic – under the façade of illegal censorship – is just another act of intimidation designed to forward the ACLU’s radical sexual agenda for children.”
The letter from the ACLU to Gwinnett officials said, “Your filtering system currently blocks access to the website for the It Gets Better Project, the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (‘PFLAG’), GSA Network, and the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
“None of the blocked websites contains material that is pornographic or sexually explicit in any way,” the ACLU assured the district. “These websites all contain ‘G-rated Content’ that is ‘[d]eemed suitable for viewers of all ages.’”
However, the ADF found that unblocking the district’s Blue Coat filtering system for homosexual websites would release to students “the following sexually inappropriate websites: polybi.com, gaydatingtips.com, and gayquestins.com/hc3.asp.”
“Bowing to the ACLU’s demands may result in the district violating federal law, if it receives funding pursuant to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA),” said the ADF. “This act prohibits libraries receiving CIPA funds from allowing students under the age 17 to access Internet content that is ‘harmful to minors.’”
The letter said the harmful images include those that “appeal to a prurient interest,” depict an actual or simulated sexual act or lack “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
The ACLU had told Gwinnett officials they had no legitimate interest in blocking the porn images and that its Blue Coat filtering “engages in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by blocking sites that express acceptance and tolerances toward LGBT individuals but not blocking sites that urge LGBT persons to change their sexual orientation.”
A spokeswoman in the office of the district’s superintendent said the district had been reviewing the dispute, but she was uncertain whether a decision had been made on the ACLU’s demand. She did not respond to a WND request for confirmation of the plans.
The ACLU has launched a similar campaign in many other states in which it cites several filtering companies — including Blue Coat, M86, Fortiguard, Websense and URL Blacklist — for preventing students from having access to such explicit material.
The organization posted a map showing it has launched cases or is reviewing claims in Washington, Nevada, California, Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Maine.
Cortman told WND that the ADF is researching the companies and the issues in those states, and is planning to send guidance to the districts regarding their responsibilities to the children.
He said there are sound legal reasons for schools not to provide such access, and a First Amendment case is weak.
“The district is well within its legal rights to keep the filter in place, especially since deactivating the filter would expose students to sites with sexually explicit content,” the ADF said.
The ACLU’s argument that the filters violate the First Amendment lacks merit because the district has “broad authority” over what materials students may access, the ADF said.
The ADF pointed to the ACLU’s claim that there is an “epidemic” of LGBT youth suicides and bullying, noting not one case had been identified.
“The idea that Internet filters somehow result in student suicides is preposterous, and the ACLU should be ashamed for making such a connection,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The ACLU cannot mask its attempts to turn school computers into porn portals for children with a supposed concern for bullying and suicides. Parents expect schools to be places where their children will learn knowledge, information, and skills that will make them productive members of society, not places where they can access pornography.”