Katy ISD Students Call for Change in District Internet Restrictions on LGBTQ + Resources

KATY, Texas (KTRK) – An online petition created by the “Students of KATYISD” group calls for changes to allow access to LGBTQ + resources and websites, including a suicide prevention hotline.

Katy ISD student Cameron Samuels, 17, spoke at a school board meeting last week and told ABC13 that students cannot access LGBTQ + youth resources and websites when ‘they are on the district’s internet server.

This means that even when students are on their home phones on school grounds, if they search for sites such as – but not limited to – the Montrose Center, The Human Rights Campaign, and The Trevor Project, which is a national 24/7 suicide prevention program. hotline, a restriction notification appears.

“Following an alleged reaction to our concerns, the category was recently changed to ‘Human Sexuality’ but it continues to block the same sites,” Samuels said, speaking to school board members regarding restrictions on the Internet portal of the district.

Samuels is among hundreds of people who support an online petition calling on the district to change its restriction policy.

When ABC13 contacted Katy ISD, a spokesperson responded that the district was closed until Monday.

Hannah Dellinger, an education reporter for the Houston Chronicle, began investigating student claims and concerns several weeks ago. Dellinger told ABC13 that a spokesperson for Katy ISD explained how the district’s website restrictions are set.

“A spokesperson told us that websites are blocked based on predetermined filters set by a third-party source,” Dellinger said. “They said these filters are supposed to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which actually only requires school districts to block obscene or pornographic images, not text or ideas that are considered controversial. “

Kennedy Loftin, development manager at the Montrose Center, said the center typically works with local school districts to explain the need for resources such as the centre’s HATCH youth program to help students. As a result, Loftin said the internet portals of several area school districts did not have restrictions on Montrose Center’s online resources.

“I hope this highlights that school districts need to redouble their efforts to distinguish between resources for their youth and things that are detrimental to them,” Loftin said. “The Montrose Center program saves lives. Many other LGBTQ sites, claiming with LGBTQ resources, provide vital information for young people and sometimes all they need is to know that there are other people there. and get a little a little help getting through a tough time. “

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