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Blue Coat: Stop Allowing Department of Defense and Other Customers to Block LGBT Websites

Blue Coat Services provides web filtering products to corporations, educational institutions, and governmental agencies. We ask that Blue Coat eliminate the option to block websites based on the LGBT category.

Blue Coat Services provides web filtering products to corporations, educational institutions, and governmental agencies. GLAAD and AMERICAblog ask that Blue Coat eliminate the option to block websites based on the LGBT category.

Take Action

Take Action: Tell Blue Coat to stop allowing sites to be blocked based on LGBT content.

Are you receiving an "Access Denied" error when you visit an LGBT website? Let us know!

By Blue Coat's own definition, its LGBT category includes: "Websites that provide reference materials, news, legal information, anti-bullying and suicide-prevention information, and other resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ("LGBT") people or that relate to LGBT civil rights. The websites included in this category were selected because they do not contain sexually explicit content and are generally suitable for viewing by all age groups."

Blue Coat has also offered a statement on blocking websites based on the LGBT category: "Customers -- including schools, libraries, and other public institutions -- do not need to block the LGBT category to prevent users from accessing sexually explicit content, whether LGBT-related or otherwise. WebFilter contains separate and distinct categories for sexually explicit content and other adult material (e.g., Adult/Mature Content, Alternative Sexuality/Lifestyles, Nudity and Pornography), which can be blocked to prevent access to sexually explicit content. Further, blocking the LGBT category is not recommended as a tool for public institutions to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act ("CIPA")."

While Blue Coat has made the above clarifications, the functionality of its products do allow institutions to block websites based on the LGBT category. A young LGBT person trying desperately to believe the message of the It Gets Better Project, or the support resources found on GLSEN's website -- simply because the young person's school IT administrator chose to block access to the LGBT category. LGBT is the only category based on the identity of a group of people; there are no filter categories based on race, ethnicity or gender.

Find more information at AMERICAblog Gay or see GLAAD's full list of Blue Coat's categories and background information.

"I have worked with major corporations and nonprofits for nearly two decades. Almost all rely on state-of-the-art software providers and web filters to power their essential links with their employees and customers. So do many public schools, libraries and universities. All aim to deliver content and information safely and responsibly to all.

However, the painful truth is, for the LGBT community, many fail.

Outdated attitudes, ignorance, misguided supervision, intrusive and paternalistic policies, and at times, homophobic anxieties, too often block or censor legitimate and vital LGBT websites and media channels.

The prescription? We quickly need a higher and evolved standard of practices for all software and web-filtering services – along with a commitment made by business, government and academia to insist that LGBT audiences, households and needs be protected, respected and equally served."

- Bob Witeck, President, Witeck Communications, communications expert and consultant