Should students have access to gay, lesbian Web sites? - WKRN News 2

Should students have access to gay, lesbian Web sites?

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School districts across the state are accused of blocking gay and lesbian Web sites from school computers and now, the American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to take legal action against Metro Nashville and Knox County.

It's standard practice in any public school system to filter what students can and cannot see on their computers, but according to the ACLU, what some school systems are blocking is against the law.

"Schools are allowing one side of an argument, one side of an issue to be heard and not the other side," said Hedy Weinberg with the ACLU of Tennessee.  "You can't have a filter set up by the government where one side of an issue is available and the other side is... blocked."

The ACLU said the filtering software used by Metro and other districts automatically blocks educational Web sites relating to homosexuality but allows access to Web sites that oppose them.

Metro student Eric Austin thinks educational gay and lesbian Web sites should be available to students.

"If a gay student wanted to... get information about organizations that can help him, he wouldn't be able to.  It would be like an African American student not being able to get to the NAACP's Web site," he told News 2.

The ACLU is asking Metro and Knox County to unblock the Web sites by the beginning of the next school year.  

It wants a response by the end of April and if not, it plans to sue as a last resort.

Metro officials said they have yet to see the letter from the ACLU.

There are 135 school districts in Tennessee.

According to the ACLU, more than 100 of them use the filtering software that blocks gay and lesbian Web sites by default.

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