Congressman Honda, U.S. Representatives, & Over 20 Organizations Urge FCC to End Discriminatory Blocking of Online LGBT Resources
San Jose, CA – Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA17) today, led 17 Members of Congress and over 20 organizations, in sending a letter to top officials at the Federal Communications Commission, asking them to ensure that online filtering software used at federally funded schools and libraries does not prevent access to sites with important resources for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community.
Local schools and libraries are required to block material that is either “obscene; child pornography; or harmful to minors.” In the letter Congressman Honda, the Founder and Chair of the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus, notes, “It has been reported to me that filtering software also can be used to block much more. Regrettably, Internet content filtering software can—intentionally or unintentionally—be used to block access to particular viewpoints in a discriminatory manner.”
The letter continues, “The Internet has the potential to help LGBT people cope with discrimination, isolation and stigma they may face in their everyday lives. A 2013 Pew Research Center report and a national survey of LGBT adults found: 39% have been rejected by friends or family because of their sexual or gender identity; 30% have been physically attacked or threatened; 21% have been treated unfairly by an employer; and, only 56% have told their mother about their sexual or gender identity. A 2014 report by the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute ‘Vision for Inclusion: An LGBT Broadband Future’ concluded that LGBT people are dependent on the Internet to meet a range of individual and social needs, which also makes them especially vulnerable to discriminatory Internet policies enacted by schools and libraries.”
The letter was cosigned by the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute, the Santa Clara County School District, School District Superintendents, and over 20 organizations across the country.
Ian Thompson, Legislative Representative for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “Representative Honda’s efforts will help to ensure that our nation’s public schools and libraries are not censoring web content geared toward and about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Unintentionally or not, internet filtering software can be employed in a discriminatory manner that denies LGBT students in crisis a much-needed lifeline for support. The FCC now has an opportunity to address this problem, and they should act to do so.”
This press release was updated to reflect that 17 Members of Congress are signatories, not 13.
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