ByÂ Cheryl Wetzstein-The Washington Times
TheÂ Camdenton R-III School DistrictÂ in central Missouri will ensure that nonsexual websites on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues will be put on a customized â€œwhitelist,â€ meaning students can access them, according to a consent judgment that is due to be filed in federal court.
The school district also agreed to have its website monitored for 18 months and pay $125,000 in legal costs.
â€œWe are very happy about the settlement, and weâ€™re delighted that students inÂ CamdentonÂ now will be able to have viewpoint-neutral access to educational websites about LGBT issues,â€ saidÂ Joshua Block, staff attorney with the LGBT Project at theÂ American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU).
As a result of this lawsuit, he said,Â Camdentonâ€™s software-filtering partner, URLBlacklist.com, has â€œcompletely overhauledâ€ its system â€œto stop viewpoint-based censorship of LGBT websites.â€
â€œThis filter used to block something like 8,000 websites, and after this overhaul, it only blocks a couple hundred,â€Â Mr. BlockÂ said. â€œThe fact that URLBlacklist has made these changes is a complete repudiation of the school districtâ€™s position that they were operating their filtering system in a reasonable manner.â€
The school district â€œvoted to settle the case in order to put the focus in the district back on providing the highest level of education possible to its students,â€ saidÂ Betsey A. Helfrich, an attorney withÂ Mickes Goldman O’Toole, the law firm that defended the school district against theÂ ACLU, which brought the suit on behalf of several pro-gay organizations.
â€œThroughout this litigation, the intent of the district was to protect students from disablement of the districtâ€™s â€˜sexualityâ€™ Internet filter, yet, while at the same time, allowing its students to access information. The district succeeded in this endeavor and is glad that this case has been resolved,â€ she said.
The lawsuit stemmed from theÂ ACLUâ€™s â€œDonâ€™t Filter Meâ€ campaign, which sent letters to dozens of school districts warning them that their web-filtering systems were illegally blocking pro-gay websites.
To read more, visit:Â http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/29/school-agrees-unblock-gay-websites/
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