Nashville’s public school district has reached a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union, and Metro has agreed to stop blocking access to Internet sources of information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, according to the ACLU.
The settlement comes after the ACLU filed a federal suit against Metro Nashville Public Schools earlier this year. That suit was dismissed after the settlement was reached.
According to the ACLU, about 80 percent of Tennessee’s public school districts — including MNPS — currently use Internet Filtering Software provided through contracts with Education Networks of America. Some of the districts using this software have enabled a filter called “LGBT,” which blocks the Web sites of several nationally known LGBT information and advocacy organizations.
Some of the organizations blocked include Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. This particular filter is not intended to block Web sites that are pornographic or obscene, according to the ACLU.
As part of the settlement, MNPS has agreed to stop using “filtering software that blocks or otherwise places a barrier to student or faculty access to the LGBT sites,” according to the ACLU. Knox County Schools has made the same agreement.
"We are pleased that a favorable agreement has been reached with the school departments without the need for further litigation," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group and lead attorney on the case, in a statement. "This is an important step towards eliminating unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination."