Tag Archives: homophobia

Are your internet filters anti-gay?

Originaly posted at the Voices of the Pinnacle Foundation

Everyone has their own opinions regarding internet censorship. Whether it be nation-wide, at the office or school, or even in home, restricting access to information is a big deal.

In Australia, many schools don’t cover issues specific to youth with diverse gender and sexuality. Things like safer-sex is brushed over, or ignored completely. It is because of this that many young people at turning to the internet to get the kind of education their straight peers receive as a matter of course. For some, their home computer is fine. For others, their online privacy at home may be compromised for a number of reasons (shared computer, parental filters, public location). For many, their library computer is the next step.

Removing this access has a number of negative results. This can mean that our youth are prevented from connecting with the wider LGBTQ community, or finding out where else they can access information or support services. It can also be dangerous when such filters block information regarding safe sex. Perhaps most importantly, allowing these filters to block any reference to sexuality reinforces to vulnerable youth an idea that they are second class or abnormal, which is highly damaging to self-esteem and mental health.

Earlier this year, a high school in Missouri, USA, was busted for having internet filters which allowed students access to plenty of anti-gay content, while blocking websites which provided a positive or supportive view. This is not uncommon. All too often, websites like Exodus International is classified as ‘religious’ content, but pro-gay websites are listed as containing information of a sexual nature.

This form of discrimination is particularly difficult to spot, as users need to actively seek such information to discover its absence, rather than it being spotted in passing. But it exists, and everyone should be aware of the dangers of both free and commercial internet filter.

Want to see just how biased your internet filters are? Take a look at these links, and see just how many from either end of the spectrum have been blocked at your school, work and home.

Anti-gay websites

Exodus International
People Can Change
Living Waters Ministries

– provides information on “conversion therapy”
Bowers v. Hardwick

– A 1986 Supreme Court ruling that upheld a Georgia statute criminalizing sodomy

Westboro Baptist Church
Klu Klux Klan

-Notorious American hate-groups

Positive LGBTQ websites
Human Rights Campaign

Equal Love -Campaigns for marriage equality

GLSEN -Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

LAWRENCE et al. v. TEXAS – The 2003 Supreme Court ruling that held that laws in the US criminalizing sodomy were unconstitutional

Whosoever – An online magazine for LGBTQ Christians

 

Warning labels on children’s book

It recently came to my attention that a children’s picture book, King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, had a warning label on the front stating “Readers should be aware that this book is concerned with same sex relationships”. This was entirely inappropriate, so I got on Twitter and made a bit of a fuss.

While the content of King and King, and it’s sequel King and King and Family is considered controversial due to an image of two men kissing, it is a significant piece of children’s literature. While little fuss has been made about the original book, Koning en Koning (its original is in Dutch), the English version has often been challenged, particular in the US.

The State Library of WA was made aware of the label, and a response was given on Flickr at the time. In addition, letters were sent to the Margaret Allen (CEO of SLWA), Ruth Faulkner Library in Belmont (where the book was held), the Hon. John Day (Minister for Planning: Culture and Arts), and Stuart Cole, (CEO of the City of Belmont). You can download a copy of th letter sent in PDF format here:

letter_to_slwa.pdf

Of the four letters sent, two responses were received. One from SLWA, the other from the Hon. John Day. Both letters can be read in this PDF file:

letter_responses.pdf

It should be noted that when Ms Allen from SLWA cited their anti-discrimination policy, sexuality was listed as ‘lifestyle choice’. For those who are unaware, your sexuality is NOT a choice (after all, with all the s**t society puts us through, who would choose to be gay?). Also, being gay is not a ‘lifestyle’, it is who your are. Just like being heterosexual is not a lifestyle.

In addition, Perth’s local gay rag, Out in Perth ran this article by Benn Dorrington on page 5 of their August issue.

Article from Out in Perth

So yeah. The label has been removed, and other copies in the SLWA system have been checked. It could have been a staff member (possibly a library assistant who has not partaken in formal TAFE or uni training), or even a member of the public. We may never know. At any rate, the label is gone. Thank goodness for that.

Just plain wrong