Sunday, September 25, 2011

More than banned books

An addition to this year's Banned Books Week is Banned Websites Awareness Day, September 28. The American Association of School Librarians is launching the day "to spotlight the problem of excessive filtering of legitimate educational Internet websites in many K-12 schools."

As an author who has spoken with librarians and teachers, I've heard many complaints about the wholesale filtering of many legitimate and useful sites. According to AASL president Carl Harvey, “Many schools filter far beyond the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act, because they wish to protect students ... Relying solely on filters does not teach young citizens how to be savvy searchers or how to evaluate the accuracy of information.”

In addition to the sheer inefficiency of overly broad filtering, there are other problems with filters. The ACLU has launched a "Don't Filter Me" campaign in partnership with Yale Law School to stop censorship of pro-LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered)-rel
ated websites on public school computer systems.

Among the sites the ACLU project uses to test whether illegally targeted filters are in place is this one: the "It Gets Better" project, whose mission is described this way: "In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better."

I post the First Amendment to the US Constitution at this time every year, so here it is:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

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