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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

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Missouri School District Sued for Refusing to Change Internet Filter

The lawsuit was filed to prevent discrimination against gays and pro-gay supporters.

Camdenton School District in Missouri is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for its use of a web filter that blocks pro-gay websites.

The lawsuit, which is believed to be the first of its kind, does not accuse the school district of intending to discriminate against gays. Rather, Camdenton is being sued for refusing to change their web filter system, URLBlacklist.

Last month, Jefferson City district judge Nanette K. Laughrey issued a preliminary injunction that told Camdenton to change their Internet filter system. The injunction also ordered that "any new system selected must not discriminate against Web sites expressing a positive view toward LGBT individuals."

Camdenton officials claim that they have shown equality toward pro-gay websites by unblocking four pro-gay websites that the ACLU mentioned in a letter of complaint and by allowing students to file an appeal to have the district Web master unblock a pro-gay site.

"We do not discriminate against gay people, or anyone else," said district superintendent Tim Hadfield, in an interview.

According to experts, the pro-gay websites were blocked because they were placed in the "sexuality" category, while anti-gay websites were classified under "religion," which the filter does not block.

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