The American Civil Liberties Union wants to recruit your high school-age kids.
A new project called Don’t Filter Me was launched by the ACLU’s LGBT Project in conjunction with the Yale Law School LGBT Litigation Clinic, and the goal is to reach out to kids in public school in an effort to “combat illegal censorship of pro-LGBT [lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender] information on public school computer systems.” When public high schools block pro-gay websites, the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act are being violated.
I’m all for pro-gay websites and I’m definitely anti-censorship, but I don’t think I’m all for my kid acting as an agent for the ACLU.
Students are told to try and visit a set of specifically targeted websites from a school computer and fill out a survey. If any of them are blocked, they’re asked to take screen shots when possible. Participants are also requested to provide contact information for follow-up, but the ACLU says their information won’t be shared without permission.
I absolutely believe it’s important for kids to take up for causes in which they believe. Being active in something bigger than their own lives is critical to raising caring, independent and socially conscious kids. But I think that when my kids get to high school, I’d rather they focus on academics, extracurricular activities and more upfront volunteer work rather than worrying about what they’re allowed to access online. And frankly, I’d rather they stay away from trying to get their school administrators into some sort of legal hot water. After all, will my kids be covered under some kind of whistleblower protection act if the accusations do or don’t pan out?
Of course I still don’t think schools should block access to pro-gay websites, particularly for the homophobic and discriminatory reasons they’re being blocked.
“There is no legitimate reason why any public school should be using an anti-LGBT filter,” Joshua Block, staff attorney at the ACLU LGBT, said in a statement, according to MSNBC. “This is not a case where overbroad filters are accidentally filtering out LGBT websites. These filters are designed to discriminate and are programmed specifically to target LGBT-related content that would not otherwise be blocked as sexually explicit or inappropriate.”
A better approach, I think, would be for the Don’t Filter Me project to raise awareness of the legal repercussions to the schools directly instead of asking kids to be snitches. While I get they’re doing it on behalf of the kids, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to get them involved to this extent.
Would you let your kid spy for the ACLU LGBT’s Don’t Filter Me project?
Image: Creative Commons