ACLU Lawsuit Over School District Blocking Gay Sites Without Merit, Attorney Says

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit filed against a Missouri school district for filtering what it calls "educational lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender content" has no legal grounds or traction and will likely be thrown out, speculated Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Counsel David Cortman.

"There is no basis in law for the claims that the ACLU are making in that case," he said.

The ACLU asserts blocking Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) websites violates of the first amendment rights of the advocacy groups for which the sites belong.

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"School districts cannot use filtering software that discriminates against websites based on their viewpoint," ACLU attorney Joshua A. Block said in a statement.

But Cortman disagrees. "There's certainly no constitutional requirement that ... the internet access at a school is open to every group out there."

Similarly, Liberty Counsel founder Mathew Staver likens the argument to that of libraries.

"They don't have to stock their shelves with Playboy or Penthouse or Hustler magazine. They can eliminate from their library certain things they don't want to bring into the library," he illustrated.

Similarly, Staver says schools also have the right to be selective about the websites it allows students to access.

The plaintiff websites, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays) National, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Campus Pride and DignityUSA, argue they are being blocked by a sexuality category in the district's internet filter because they feature articles referring to homosexuality.

None of the sites feature pornographic content.

Still, Staver says removing the sexuality category or utilizing a filter that will allow LBGT-related websites to be viewed in school, would allow sites that do feature pornographic material to be viewed across the district.

"You go to these LGBT websites," he described, "and the advertisements are very sexually suggestive, provocative and pornographic and lead to pornographic sites as well."

Staver says the lawsuit is "a trick to force school to be purveyors of their immorality."

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