Following a campaign by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asking school districts to allow access to LGBT-related resources to students, Lightspeed Systems, which provides filtering software for thousands of schools has decided to remove the category censoring LGBT advocacy websites.
The category "education.lifestyle" was activated by several schools across the country and prevented access to LGBT-affirming resources and organizations. Students in such schools could not get essential information from websites that support LGBT youth despite still having access to anti-LGBT content. Activating this category prevented access to websites for the The Trevor Project, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network or the Gay Straight Alliance Network among others.
“The sites that are currently in the education.lifestyles category will now be placed in the broader society, society.politics, education.history or education.social science categories. These changes are intended to properly categorize the sites by their content, without regard to their political or moral viewpoint.” said Lightspeed Systems in an email to its clients.
The ACLU's campaign "Don't Filter Me" aims to identify filters that block LGBT content and violate First Amendment rights and the Equal Access Act, which allows equal access rights to all extracurricular activities. Lightspeed Systems was the first company to change its software. Other companies that have filters blocking LGBT content are: Blue Coat, M86, Fortiguard, Websense and URL Blacklist.
GLAAD applauds Lightspeed Systems for taking the lead on allowing access to crucial information to LGBT youth and thanks the ACLU for shining a light on the censorship faced by students in certain public schools.