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Roughly 80 percent of Tennessee school districts, including Metro Nashville, use filtering software to bar students from viewing gay education and gay rights websites, according to the ACLU.
The organization threatened litigation in a letter
Jesse Register, director of Metro Nashville schools, and others if the schools don't reverse this blatant and embarrassing violation of students' constitutionally guaranteed rights by April 29.
is provided through a contract with a group called the Tennessee Schools Cooperative. Of course, schools are expected to block porn, gay or straight, but the filtering software goes a step further. It blocks widely recognized sites like the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. At the same time, the software allows "reparative therapy" sites--organizations that seek to "reform" gays and lesbians, treating homosexuality like a psychological disorder.
Says one Nashville student in an ACLU release
: "Public schools are supposed to be places where students learn from the open exchange of ideas," said Eric Austin, a senior at Hume-Fogg High School. "How are we supposed to be informed citizens and learn how to have respectful debate when our schools rule out an entire category of information for no good reason."