Censorship offends

The Southerner

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A few weeks ago, a Southerner staffer found an interesting news article about lesbian Republicans. Upon trying to show the New York Times article to other students while at school, she found the page could not be accessed because the keyword “lesbian” was blocked by an APS content filter. Further searches revealed that “gay,” “transgender” and “bisexual” are all blocked as well. While on an APS campus, students cannot access web pages containing these words through Google search, New York Times online, or any other online search engine or news source.

We are outraged at this discovery. These are not offensive words. In fact, they are the very words that make up the LGBT acronym, words people proudly use to label themselves. Interestingly, “LGBT” and “homosexual” are permitted by APS’s filters.

The fact remains, however, that the censoring of these words promotes a prejudiced mindset. The word “straight” certainly isn’t blocked. Two other subjects blocked by APS are pornographic and violent content. Categorizing a sexual orientation with these subjects shows a disrespect towards members of the LGBT community, many of whom attend or are employed at APS schools including Grady.

In a country whose president supports gay marriage and in a city as liberal as Atlanta, it seems counterintuitive, antiquated and just plain wrong for APS to consider these words dirty or inappropriate. If the public school system is trying to protect children from these terms, they are doing a terrible job that should not have been attempted in the first place. As one staffer offered, the only words allowed are “sterile” ones that don’t include the self-acceptance and sense of community that many of the blocked words have grown to represent.

This contradiction further shows the randomness of APS’s system. The words “assault,” “murder” and “bludgeon” are unblocked. Words related to terrorism are unblocked. The allowance of these words makes the rejection of words denoting sexual orientation all the more repugnant. Being gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual is not a crime, it is not something to be ashamed of and it is not something APS has the right to block from our Internet. We strongly urge APS to reconsider this decision and reverse this policy.

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