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ACLU calls for halt on Berks County school district blocking websites about gays

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 27, 2013 2:06 PM
typing laptop computer

(Shillington) -- The ACLU is accusing a Berks County school district of blocking Internet content about gays. 

The American Civil Liberties Union said that Governor Mifflin School District's Internet filtering software blocked sites that a student tried to access for research.

The district's ``sexuality'' filter blocks sites expressing support for the gay-rights movement, while an ``intolerance'' filter blocks a range of political advocacy sites, including ones that oppose legal protections for gays, the group said.

The ACLU says it violates students' free speech rights.

``Being able to access information on the Internet at the school library is not only critical for academic purposes, it can also be a lifeline for (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) students in crisis who don't feel safe seeking support on their home computers,'' said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. ``Blocking these sites not only violates the First Amendment, but it does a disservice to students trying to learn about themselves and the world around them.''

The ACLU has sent a letter to Governor Mifflin asking that it reconfigure the filtering software.

A district spokeswoman did not return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Junior Maison Fioravante, who was blocked from accessing the sites, started a petition that drew 3,200 signatures, the ACLU said.

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