Honda introduces ‘Don’t Block LGBTQ Act’ to ensure access to information

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by Seth Hemmelgarn, courtesy of The Bay Area Reporter

Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) has introduced the Don’t Block LGBTQ Act, which would ensure LGBTQ resources aren’t blocked at public schools and libraries in California, his office announced Thursday (September 29).

Currently, public schools and libraries that get internet service subsidies through the e-Rate program have to filter content so that obscene content, child pornography, and “content harmful to minors” is blocked, according to Honda’s office. However, individual schools and libraries “can block useful LGBT resources that are not sexually explicit in any way,” the announcement says.

Honda’s bill would ensure the Federal Communications Commission protects useful LGBTQ resources without modifying other filters.

“As we approach LGBTQ History Month,” which is in October, “the contributions of LGBTQ people should be accessible to everyone at public schools and public libraries,” Honda, who has a transgender granddaughter, stated. “We have seen how filters can block students and adults from useful resources. Whether a gay man is learning how to come out or a transgender woman is finding trans-specific health care, the publicly funded Internet access should remain open to everyone in the LGBTQ community.”

More than 50 groups are supporting the legislation, including the Human Rights Campaign and The LGBT Technology Partnership and Institute, Honda’s office said.

“We are proud and excited at the opportunity to work with Rep. Mike Honda’s office on the Don’t Block LGBTQ Act of 2016, a continuation of an effort underway for years now to better understand those vital, lifesaving resources being blocked by filters in public schools and libraries,” stated Christopher Wood, executive director of the LGBT Technology Partnership and Institute. “Congressman Honda has a lot of leadership on issues that impact the LGBTQ community as demonstrated by his launch of the Transgender Equality Task Force. The LGBTQ community deserves equal access to resources specific to our community’s needs, especially in public schools and libraries. The last thing troubled LGBT youth need to feel is alone, bullied and/or without support or the ability to gain access to those lifesaving resources.”