Some secondary schools in the US have reportedly blocked student access to a number of LGBT+ advocacy websites, but students have said they can still get on anti-gay sites.
Pupils at Billings Public Schools in Montana said they were not able to get onto certain websites, including those belonging to the Human Rights Watch and the LGBT equality organisation GLAAD.
Billings Public Schools include three high schools in the area, six middle schools and 22 elementary schools.
In an email to staff, Brandon Newpher, Chief Information 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”, the website CounterPunch reported.
The schools blocked the websites under the category of ‘AlternativeSexualLifestyles(GLBT)’.
The American Civil Union Liberties (ACLU) condemned the schools’ decision, stating blocking the sites violated the students’ First Amendment right to free speech and stopped them from accessing support.
“The use of Internet filtering tools to censor websites that advocate for the fair treatment of LGBT people is wrong and illegal,” said Jay Kaplan, ACLU of Michigan LGBT Project staff attorney.
“Many of these websites provide much-needed support and resources for LGBT youth during a critical time of their lives.
“By blocking LGBT websites, schools are sending a terrible message to students that LGBT voices are to be ignored and silenced.”
Discrimination against LGBT students
Last year, research revealed two in five LGBT+ students have hidden their identity on campus in fear they might be discriminated against.
According to figures released by Stonewall, around 42 percent of LGBT+ students said that they have hidden their gender identity or sexual orientation while at university in case they received a hostile reaction from their fellow students or teaching staff.
And a third of the 522 LGBT+ university students surveyed said that they have been targeted with abuse or negative comments because they are LGBT+.
One out of seven trans students polled have considered dropping out of their course because of the level of harassment and discrimination they have faced.