BY ROB SALERNO – The American Civil Liberties Union is taking the Missouri school system to court to get them to stop blocking legitimate gay news and information websites from being accessed by school computers.
The ACLU says that blocking the sites amounts to censorship and is contrary to Americans’ first amendment right to free speech, and that it cannot be justified by any educational purpose.
The Camdenton School District, which is named in the suit, filters out websites dealing with “sexuality.” They say this is appropriate given that the internet is accessed by children from kindergarten to Grade 12. In pre-suit correspondence with the ACLU, the board agreed to unblock only sites dealing with bullying.
I wonder if any of those anti-bullying websites recommended calling in the ACLU.
A few weeks back, Xtra reported that several gay news sites were blocked on the Ottawa airport’s WiFi system. As we reported, the US Child Online Protection Act actually requires school districts and libraries to restrict access to “harmful material” on the internet in order to qualify for discounted telecom rates. What is considered “harmful,” however, remains undefined.
For many gay kids, school is one of the few places where they can access information about their sexuality — either because they don’t have internet access at home, they lack privacy or they’re afraid of being outed by browsing histories. It’s important to them that they can access information in a safe space, and there’s no good reason why schools and libraries shouldn’t be those places.
In other intergenerational communication news, George Michael tells Metro that he hopes his new album can reach a new generation of gay kids. Because lord knows the last generation hasn’t been listening to him that much. The new dance album will be all about being gay and having gay relationships and “making statements in gay terminology,” by which I can only imagine that there will be double entendres about meeting someone who’s just a stranger and being at his feet. Oh, wait.
Well, if George Michael wants to reach out and be a father figure (sorry) to these gay youth through his music, that will at least be a switch from the last time he attempted to reach out to a member of another generation, when the News of the World reported he was cruising older gents in Hampstead Heath.
And really, who better to inspire gay kids than a man who is living proof that if you stay in the closet long past the point when everyone’s figured it out, you can have a long and successful career based largely on looking back at your glory days and trying to figure out where and when it all went wrong (Hint: Los Angeles, 1998). Here’s a pic from back when no one knew that George Michael was gay. In the rest of the world’s defence, it was the 1980s, and giant cross earings were sort of considered cool.