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Park City students say online filters blocked LGBTQ, BLM searches

Computer Search
Posted at 11:25 AM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 13:53:48-04

PARK CITY, Utah — Students at Park City High School say they were blocked from searching for LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter material on school-issued computers.

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The Associated Press reports the students recently found the phrase "gay rights in Poland" was blocked, so they then tried searching for the words gay, lesbian, queer and same sex marriage, and had the same issue.

Summer McGuire, a student at the school and president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, wrote Principal Roger Arbabi, saying they are being prevented from researching topics for school. Arbabi responded that the LGBTQ search terms will now be allowed after a new filter system was "adjusted."

The district upgraded its software program on March 11, but the report says Utah's Black Lives Matter website has been blocked all year, despite complaints from students.

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A University of Utah professor says blocking any search of a group that has been discriminated against may violate SB196, which repealed a state ban in 2017 on teachers answering LGBTQ questions from students.

“Obviously, blocking terms is a form of discrimination,” said Clifford Rosky. “That’s a first amendment or potentially equal protection issue, and I think it’s a large one.”

Rosky told the Associated Press that school districts and state legislatures need to make rational choices on what they filter on school computers.