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Gay Issues Websites Blocked at Schools

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Jodi Bryson: Tennessee public schools are denying students access to websites that discuss LGBT issues.

young teen looking at gay issues website

Tennessee public schools are digging a mighty deep hole. Start with a Constitutional breach, add pro-American rhetoric, and top it off with plenty of gay sex and school children. Hey! Now they're up to their nosehairs in bad press, the attention of the Feds, and kids asking parents questions about issues far beyond their maturity levels. Good times.

We saw this story then did our own digging. What's up is public schools in the Knox County Schools and Metro Nashville Public Schools are filtering access to websites that discuss lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. However they don't block access to sites that advocate therapy to, basically, learn how to not be gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans.

Certainly varying discrimination and filtering is going on all over the country, but the difference is those incidents aren't getting press. Call it Tennessee's lucky day. The world is watching as the school administrators blame their Internet filter service. And they might've gotten away with that humdinger if it weren't for those delightful gay-reparative websites the "filters" accidentally allow.

Oh, and then there's the black-and-white English clearly stating in the schools' contracts that the schools decide what to filter, not the Internet Service, which in this case is Education Networks of America. An attorney for ENA already handed both districts their asses in an immediate public response.

Hey, Tennessee school folk? It's not legal to mess with the Constitution, but it's definitely uncool to mess with the Constituion then try to blame someone else.

As we're barely off the heels of the gay marriage issue in America (Iowa Supreme Court and Vermont are about to approve gay marriage, and the California Supreme Court is about to make its ruling), the American Civil Liberties Union says this situation is viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment. The schools decided what to block, the choices were discriminatory, and those schools are so busted.

Filtering, by the way, is a less inflammatory way to say censoring. It was intentional that the impact of censorship on the Tennessee school children was not opinionated in this story. We leave that to you. Is Tennessee's filterning un-American? Or just uncool? And what does this mean to the kids?

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37 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sleepless April 20, 2009, 2:38 PM

So what.Kids are in school to learn,reading,writing ect.We’re now suppose to supply them with info.such as gay issues??? I think Not.What next?
If your so hell bent on supplying “your” kids with this it out of your own homes,don’t use our school sys.for your soap box.

Sleepless April 20, 2009, 3:06 PM

Just one more thought.I do not(as many other parents don’t want) you and other peoples values ect. pushed on all our kids.Where does it stop…?We and many others like Us send our kids to school to learn,not to have other peoples ideals pushed on ALL our kids.You wish to do this with yours,do it at your own homes if you feel its that so important to “you”.Don’t USE ALL our kids for your personal issues or agendas.Tennessee is just as American as you are! As We ALL Are.With rights to say and feel how they wish,it is there right,as the rights of the rest of us to say,keep it out of Our schools,if that is what We wish to say too.Your not the only voice,just the squeakest voice thats upset at not getting there way.

MM April 20, 2009, 3:29 PM

But I don’t want my kids to be exposed to all of this ‘ex-gay’ garbage! I’d rather them see something about condom use based on science then read about conversion therapies which have been discredited.

If an elementary school wants to filter out sexual content, fine, no problem. But do it across the board.

chris April 20, 2009, 4:22 PM

BLOCK AWAY!!! My kids are in school to learn not to view such issues on the internet. I’m so sick of all this liberal B.S. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs but please stop pushing it on everyone else or trying to make me feel bad if I don’t agree with you. (I DON’T)

julie April 21, 2009, 10:49 AM

Yeah, Tennessee is being ridiculous and trying to keep children from EDUCATION on LGBT issues.
Reading and educating yourself is NOT going to make anyone gay.
Nobody “turned” or “made” me gay. I just was.
I’d like to know which website was suppose to have made me gay back in the 80’s…oh wait…there was no internet when I was a kid. Guess we can blame it on something else…but what…since I was raised pentecostal and taught that all “fags” were gonna burn in hell…

-Mike April 22, 2009, 8:25 AM

It amuses me how some commenters equate “providing access” with “shoving it down their throats”. I’m sure they must suffer constant harassment by all those nagging books available at their local library.

Statistics show that a little less than 1 in 10 of our children will be gay; but regardless of the odds, if there is even a small chance that these websites might help a child through an isolating and confusing experience, every parent should demand that these sites be accessible.

ncrev April 22, 2009, 9:05 AM

Have any of you arguing against lifting these blocks actually visited the websites in question? PFLAG, GLSEN and HRC provide lots of excellent content. Students should be able to educate themselves on issues.

Phil Butler April 22, 2009, 4:17 PM

a very well done post. Do I agree? Well, as you say, the law is the law. descrimination is something we do every day, whether buying a hat or deciding who to follow on Twitter.

Where kids are concerned, we need to really micro analyze what we do. Our company has been in the kids on the Web issue for some time. This is a tough call in my book, but if I had to pick sides, it would be to protect the kids at all costs, except possibly anarchy and chaos.

Great job,


theyearofasking April 24, 2009, 4:20 PM

Sleepless, you say that you agree with Tennessee’s choice to limit student access to certain websites because: “We and many others like Us send our kids to school to learn, not to have other peoples ideals pushed on ALL our kids.”

But isn’t it also “pushing” an ideal to offer access to gay content ONLY if it’s about how NOT to be gay?

SC April 26, 2009, 9:48 AM

wow, Sleepless. What hypocrisy. It’s quite obvious that YOU have ‘personal issues or agendas’ against the LGBT community. “I do not want you and other people’s values pushed on my kids.” Do you realise that what you are condoning is exactly that? The question is not “where does it (i.e. freedom of access) all stop”, but where does censorship stop. How does a school have a right to control what sexual issues a child chooses to find out about of their own volition? By unblocking these websites, they are hardly forcing gay values down the children’s throats. They are simply allowing them to choose their own values. Which, it seems, is a very frightening idea for some.

BecauseIJustDid April 27, 2009, 7:24 PM

Sorry, but my kids don’t attend public schools for this exact reason. We do not support the (minority) liberal agenda and I won’t allow gay and lesbian teaching into this house.

The children are there to learn about the basics. I believe sex ed belongs in the home, never at school (straight or otherwise).

Aaron Clark May 6, 2009, 11:31 AM

Son It’s not ok to be gay

Aaron Clark May 6, 2009, 11:31 AM

Son It’s not ok to be gay

Chris May 29, 2009, 12:38 AM

I’m a gay teacher, parent and I do not push my views on my students. Many of you may not realize this but gays are everywhere and your children know more about LGBT issues than you think.

chris May 29, 2009, 12:47 AM

It is absolutely myopic to believe that not blocking sights wich offer to convert you ” back to heterosexuallity” and to block those that promote self acceptance is not indoctrination. It doesn’t only block those gay children from being validated it also does a disservice to the straight children by teaching them to be bigots and expecting others to attempt to change who they are for their approval or acceptance. How are we to all live in a global multicultural community when we are institutionalizing self hatred and bigotry?

chris May 29, 2009, 12:56 AM

one more thing- Gay people pay more taxes than straight people because we can’t marry and claim each other as spouses and are denied access to our partners social security and hospital rooms when they need us most, we are totally under represented in media and in politics and in schools. Since we have to pay more for less services and access do you think you might use some of that money to educate people about tolerance to ensure I don’t get murdered? here in NYC a str8 main got murdered for walking down the street holding his BROTHERS hand. That level of fear and hatred needs to be battled against and yes as a citizen of the USA it is your DUTY to educate and be educated to get along with eachother and most certainly that responcibility belongs in the schools.

Hmzuayci June 26, 2009, 2:15 PM

soPr3W comment6 ,

jorge garza January 10, 2010, 1:54 PM

In the roi grand valley

Samuel April 23, 2010, 10:21 PM

I think these Ultra Nationalist Conservatives should take their kids out of public school instead of holding other public school kids hostage. I think kids should be able to read, the Human Rights Campaign Website if they want to. Republicans Think its just protecting the kids? Although what if it does more harm then good. Then someone ends up being hurt because of a lack of education. I. E. THE WOMEN ARE EVIL Mathematical Equation! Lets See if the kids figure that one out!

Used Tow Trucks In Chicago November 25, 2010, 12:29 AM

Most people, when they criticize, whether they like it or hate it, they’re talking about product. That’s not art, that’s the result of art. Art, to whatever degree we can get a handle on (I’m not sure that we really can) is a process. It begins in the heart and the mind with the eyes and hands.

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