Katy ISD unblocks some LGBTQ websites after public outcry, but others remain banned – Houston Public Media

Cameron Samuels speaks at the Katy ISD board meeting on January 24, 2022.

Katy ISD has unblocked some websites with LGBTQ mental health and education resources on her district-wide network after a group of students collected nearly 1,300 signatures for a petition calling for the removal of strict internet filters.

But other websites remained banned in categories named “Alternative Sexual Lifestyles (GLBT)” and “Human Sexuality,” such as the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention group that provides crisis support services. .

“I implore you to unblock the Trevor Project and add an agenda item to next month’s board meeting to update the non-discrimination policy to include protections for the LGBTQ community,” Cameron Samuels, a senior at Seven Lakes High School, said during a council. directors’ meeting on Monday.

A video shared with Houston Public Media shows a student able to access previously banned websites like The Montrose Center and The Human Rights Campaign. But other sites of this type remained inaccessible due to the filters.

Samuels, a student leading efforts to lift network bans, cited several of their Katy ISD peers unable to speak publicly or reveal their LGBTQ identity to the greater community.

“When I’ve been through severe depressive episodes and periods of self-harm, their resources have been of tremendous help to me,” Samuels said. “The Trevor Project can save precious human lives by providing us with a safe space. These internet bans are not representative of the Katy ISD student body.

In a statement, the district defended its policy towards The Trevor Project website by reporting a possible violation of the Children’s Internet Protection Act, a federal law which requires schools to block access to harmful images and ensure the safety of minors when using discussion forums.

“The Trevor Project website has a community space for ‘getting advice and support within an international community for young LGBTQ people aged 13-24’ which is available to anyone who chooses to ‘join now. “,” the statement read. “Minors communicating with adults, unsupervised, online are a concern for communication and chat rooms, as noted in the CIPA.”

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