Catholic LGBT Organization Helps Win Court Case for Internet Freedom

February 20, 2012

Students in the Cadmenton R-III school district of Missouri can now have access to information about LGBT resources on the Internet, thanks to a federal court decision last week that ordered school officials to stop censoring websites.   DignityUSA, a national Catholic organization of LGBT people, was one of several plaintiffs in the case, including PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and Campus Pride.

The court case was raised by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.  A Windy City Times news story quotes from the court’s opinion where the judges expressed concern that the Internet filtering system

” ‘systematically allows access to websites expressing a negative viewpoint toward LGBT individuals by categorizing them as “religion,” but filters out positive viewpoints toward LGBT issues by categorizing them as “sexuality.” ‘ Although the  [school] district argued that it would unblock individual websites upon request the court held that ‘students may be deterred from accessing websites expressing a positive view toward LGBT individuals either by the inconvenience of having to wait twenty-four hours for access or by the stigma of knowing that viewpoint has been singled out as less worthy by the school district and the community.’ “

In the same news report, an ACLU attorney praised the decision as providing constitutional freedom, while protecting students from sexually explicity sites:

” ‘The court correctly recognized the constitutional rights of all students to viewpoint-neutral access to information,’ said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project. ‘It is absolutely possible to protect children from sexually explicit content while also protecting their First Amendment rights. Like thousands of other school districts across the country, Camdenton R-III will now begin using a filtering system that blocks pornography without discriminating against LGBT-related content.’ “

Congratulations to DignityUSA and all the plaintiffs in this case for working towards the free flow of information–particularly for helping young people accessing reputable information about LGBT issues and reality!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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