KATY – Several students who spoke at the Katy ISD board meeting on Monday said they will not be silenced until what they consider to be “LGBTQ discrimination through internet policies” is put to an end.
School district administrators said the policy in place is to protect all students.
“Undoubtedly discriminatory,” said Cameron Samuels, a senior at Seven Lakes High School.
Samuels is referring to the Katy ISD internet policy that school district administrators say is aligned with the Children’s Internet Protection Act or CIPA.
The policy blocks access to websites based on content considered to be inappropriate, but Samuels says it also filters out crucial access to LGBTQ resources.
“When a student is on the verge of committing suicide, it’s imperative that they have access to a suicide lifeline like The Trevor Project,” said Samuels.
He said when Katy ISD students try to use the schools’ internet to access The Trevor Project and other sites geared toward the LGBTQ community, they instead get a denial message.
Katy ISD officials released the following statement in response to the outrage:
“The District provides a variety of communications and technology resources that are consistent with its educational goals and align with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Because there are billions of websites housed on the world wide web, content that is made available to students during the instructional day, is reviewed and filtered by a third-party school-based platform that ensures CIPA compliance. The filtering process accounts for all material that may be found on a website, including hyperlinks to external content such as electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communication — spaces often occupied by both minors and adults, and discouraged by CIPA. The District’s responsible use guidelines for student technology can be found here.
Katy ISD did not say it blocks access to websites solely because they’re geared towards LGBTQ issues, but rather content involving “human sexuality,” as seen in a message apparently restricting access To the Human Rights Campaign’s website.
Samuels is convinced the current policy that’s in place sends a strong message in the wrong direction.
“That they aren’t, they aren’t seen as who they are,” Samuel’s said.
In addition to a petition with more than a thousand signatures, students have submitted a formal request to the technology department, hoping for exceptions to be made to the internet policy. There’s no word yet on if and when that will happen.