LGBT Internet Report Calls for Changes to E-Rate Program
Posted at 4:35 p.m. on June 26
A research paper released today by the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute on the Internet and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people recommends policy changes to the E-Rate program so that libraries and schools don’t block LGBT-specific content.
“For LGBT people, access to knowledge about their own identity, communities and health is often blocked when they search in public libraries and, for youth, in public schools,” the report states. “We recommend policy changes that would redefine the ‘e-rate’ benefits for Federally-funded IT so that they do not block LGBT-specific content and allow access to LGBT information in public libraries and schools.”
The Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program provides schools and libraries discounts for telecommunications and Internet services.
Citing documents from the American Library Association and American Civil Liberties Union, the report states:
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), passed in 2000, requires libraries and K-12 schools to install filters on their Internet computers to retain federal funding – known as the “e-Rate” – and discounts for computers and computer access. … Some filtering software does a commendable job blocking egregious and harmful materials, such as violent depictions of child abuse. Unfortunately, in the absence of policy guidelines that explicitly support the rights of young people to seek out information about LGBT identities and sexual health, the vast majority of filters often block LGBT-specific content, as well as much sexual and reproductive health content.
The ACLU has sued school districts over Internet filtering and the library group lost a Supreme Court case over its challenge of the underlying children’s protection law’s filtering provisions.
The report also states that it calls for the public and private sectors to “prioritize the right of citizens to use the Internet, as we do other modes of private communication, to share information freely and confidentially.”
Some other recommendations:
- Making more spectrum available of Internet use.
- Training for teachers, librarians and community leaders in “LGBT-specific digital literacy information.”
- More mental health support through mobile Internet.
The paper reviewed “available research, data and information about the intersection of LGBT communities and technology” and drafts were circulated to additional academics and opened for public comment online with comments and feedback “incorporated as appropriate,” the report stated. The Time Warner Cable Research Program on Digital Communications provided financial support for the paper.