Thursday, February 16, 2012

Court orders school Internet filtering be disabled due to pro-gay website discrimination

A federal court has issued a preliminary injunction requiring a school to disable its internet filter so as not to "discriminate against websites expressing a positive viewpoint toward LGBT individuals." Parents v. Camdenton R-III Sch. Dist., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18914 (W.D. Mo. 2012).

The school district had enacted a filter to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act to prevent access to obscene materials. The software classified pro-gay information websites as "sexuality" and blocked them, but websites with negative views were accessible as they were categorized as "religion." Students had the option of requesting access to a website but were forced to identify themselves and wait for possible approval. A school board member had even "expressed 'concern with students accessing websites saying it's okay to be gay.'"

The court held that the system stigmatizes or at least burdens individuals who wish to view the positive websites despite the system allowing a website to be unblocked. The court determined that each element required to get a preliminary injunction favored the plaintiffs, and they are also likely to succeed at trial.

UPDATE: Read a more detailed post on this case here by Eugene Volokh at Volokh Conspiracy.


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