ACLU campaign against web filters would make schools ‘porn-portals’: pro-family advocates
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA, August 23, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A prominent pro-family law firm is fighting back against a campaign by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to pressure public schools to disable web filters that block student access to sexually explicit homosexual websites.
“ACLU is pushing its radical sexual agenda for children by intimidating school districts with a long string of scare tactics disguised as a concern over censorship,” said David Cortman, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). “In truth, these school districts have no obligation to cave to the ACLU’s unwarranted demands. Our children come first.”
Last February, ACLU, in partnership with Yale Law School, launched a nationwide campaign, “Don’t Filter Me,” to target schools that block lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) websites.
The campaign asked students to see if their schools blocked web content geared toward LGBT communities. Students were encouraged to report their findings to the ACLU LGBT Project.
“Students may not realize that it actually is illegal for their schools to block educational and political content geared toward the LGBT community,” argued Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project. “Programs that block LGBT content violate First Amendment rights to free speech, as well as the Equal Access Act.”
The ADF, however, argues that this rationale is ultimately a disguise for something more sinister. “The ‘Don’t Filter Me Initiative’ would be better named the ‘Public School Porn Initiative,’” according to Cortman.
So far seven school districts have been legally threatened by ACLU with an ultimatum that they either disable their filters or face a federal civil rights lawsuit. One school district in Camdenton, Missouri has already been sued by ACLU.
In response to this threat ADF attorneys sent letters to the school districts arguing that ACLU’s arguments are “irresponsible and lack legal merit.”
“A public school district’s decisions regarding what web content to make available to students are curricular decisions, and the case law is clear that public school districts have broad authority over curricular matters,” wrote Cortman to Tim Hadfield, superintendent of the sued school district in Missouri.
“Disabling the sexuality filter will make sexually inappropriate material available to students … [some of which is] pornographic in nature,” said Cortman.
Sexuality filters block websites that are “dedicated to sexuality” and that provide internet materials dealing with sex or sexuality that are deemed inappropriate for minors. The filters also exclude websites that “possibly includ[e] adult material.”
“Given that the filter likely blocks sites that contain adult sexual content, it is inconceivable that the ACLU would advise you to disable the Sexuality filter. Yet this is precisely what they are demanding you do,” wrote Cortman.
“The ACLU cannot mask its attempts to turn school computers into porn portals for children with a supposed concern for censorship. Parents expect schools to be places where their children learn—not places where they access pornography,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.