Tennessee schools to remove block on gay educational and news websites

PinkNews Staff Writer June 4, 2009
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A long running battle to unblock educational gay websites from schools in Knox County, Tennessee may be over. Following the start of legal proceedings, the County Superintendent has said web filters would be adjusted.

In April, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of a school librarian and a number of students began legal proceedings against the school board for blocking lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) educational websites. They claimed that blocking the material was unconstitutional.

The filter blocks gay educational websites which contain no inappropriate content, such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Marriage Equality USA. However, it allows access to ‘ex-gay’ sites, which advocate reparative therapy in order to ‘turn’ gay people straight.

Yesterday, day, Dr Jim McIntyre, Knox County’s School Superintendent told educational board members the web filters would be adjusted.

In a statement Dr McIntyre said: “The Internet filtering software used by our Internet service provider, ENA, was not in compliance with School Board policy with respect to certain LGBT web sites.

“Working with the Knox County Schools and other customers, our service provider has made some technical adjustments to the filter, and it now complies with Board Policy IFABC.

“We began working to find a solution to this issue, in good faith, as soon as it was brought to our attention, and our efforts were actively under way long before the legal action recently taken by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“As this is a matter currently under litigation, I will have no additional comment on it.”

It is not yet known if the ACU will drop their litigation.

Karen Brinks, a librarian at one of the schools affected told local 6 News: “I am very relieved to hear about Dr. McIntyre’s statement, but wish there had been better communication throughout the process.”

She added:”It’s good to know though that they understand this issue and I hope other school districts around the country, that are watching how this issue plays out, will take their cue from this controversy.”

More: Americas

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