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CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.

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General Updates [Mar. 22nd, 2006|11:52 pm]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.


This entry is just to catch everybody up on what has been happening. This will be a brief overview of changes to this page as well as what we're doing next. The three of us have become emotionally involved with this issue and it is making it hard for us to do this as well as our other life commitments. If you're available to help, please let us know, we won't turn you away. We are also now seriously interested in getting help from people within the school system who might be able to guide us as well as some advice from lawyers.

We are near certain now that these websites are being blocked intentionally. We are proceeding at this point assuming that to be a fact. We feel like we have it in as many words from the Chief Technology Officer. Be sure to read Savannah's email conversation with him below.

It appears that the appeals process at Jay M. Robinson High School has stalled and will not proceed any further. This we feel is evident in the email which Savannah received back from Mr. Alexander and his mention of discussing it with her principals. The appeals process requires a supportive principal or it does not work. However, Savannah does have an appointment to speak with her principal on Thursday to discuss the situation.

Chelsea has spoken to a supportive teacher at Central Cabarrus High School and has also spoken with her principal. Her principal is going to discuss in more depth with her teacher the situation and then get back to her. We hope to hear back from him on Thursday. We still have hope for the appeals process to continue at this point at CCHS but we are uncertain of how supportive her principal will be. The question becomes, "Is he willing to make the appeal multiple times to multiple levels of the district administration?"

At this point however we feel like we need to begin preparing for the situation in which the appeals process fails to be successful. We believe the next step in the process to be going to the Superintendent and the School Board. We will be reviewing the procedure to ensure we're making the correct next step and begin planning our strategy for that step in a meeting this coming Sunday evening at 9pm. If you are interested in attending please contact Nathan and he will let you know where it is being held.

Edits have been made to the following:

  • Added Savannah's email conversation with Mr. Alexander.
  • Added more information to the "What we know to be facts" entry.
  • Combined the To-Do list with the finished list and reorganized it.
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Original Email [Mar. 22nd, 2006|11:48 pm]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.

The original email which was sent to Mr. Steven Alexander by Savannah.

Mr. Alexander,Collapse )
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(no subject) [Mar. 22nd, 2006|09:23 pm]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.

Ms. Seithel,

There is no discriminatory intent in this at all. I do not allow any Students, Teachers, or Administrators to access any sites such as these. School Board Policies prohibit access to these types of websites. The policy is at the following weblink: http://nt5.scbbs.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=298723&depth=8&infobase=cabarrus.nfo&infobase-cabarrus.nfo=&record={1065}&softpage=PL_frame&softpage-PL_Frame=
Policy 3225/7320 states the following: No user of the Internet, including a person sending or receiving electronic communications, may engage in creating, intentionally accessing or transmitting images, documents or other material that is obscene, defamatory, pornographic, harassing or considered to be harmful.
It also states: The board is aware that there is information on the Internet that is not related to the educational program. The board also is aware that there is information and opportunities to communicate on subjects that are not suitable for school-age children and that many parents would find objectionable. The school district will take reasonable precautions to prevent students from having access to inappropriate materials, such as violence, nudity, obscenity or graphic language which does not serve a legitimate pedagogical purpose. The school district will install or will ensure that its Internet service provider installs a technology protection measure that blocks or filters Internet access to audio or visual depictions that are obscene, that are considered child pornography or that are harmful to minors. It also states that the use of the Internet is a privilege not a right.

School Board Policy 4310 as states the following:
In addition to any standards or rules established by the schools, the following behaviors are specifically prohibited as violative of the standards of integrity and civility:

inappropriately or improperly using school district computers or computer accounts including: (1) accessing or attempting to access a computer without authorization; (2) exceeding authorized access which includes doing any of the following without authorization: (a) communicating, delivering, transmitting, or viewing school district programs or files except as authorized, (b) obtaining, transmitting, altering, or destroying information contained in school district, personnel, student or any other person's files or programs, and (c) introducing any program or file to a system computer; (3) using school district computers or accounts to send, receive, or access profane, obscene, pornographic, or abusive materials; (4) using school district computers or accounts to communicate threats, extortion, or slander; and (5) using school district computers or accounts to violate copyright laws or license agreements;

These sites should not be accessed at any Cabarrus County Schools Site.

Sites that are for educational purposes and utilized to teach the North Carolina Standard Course of Study are available for student and faculty use. If there is a site that is blocked the Principal of the school will ask for a review. We will review it for relation to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and will then make a ruling whether to allow access or to deny access.

I have spoken to Mr. Smith and Mr. Collins and have shown them the sites that you have requested and they agree that these sites are unacceptable and should remain blocked.
They will be in touch with you to discuss this situation further. I have copied them on my response.

As you call them, " My Screens" do not discriminate against any race, color, creed, sex, or national origin. They are based solely upon national and international acceptable standards. We have recently upgraded to a better content filtering system and that is the reason you may have been able to access these sites in the past.
While we realize that we cannot block all unacceptable sites but were are responsible for doing the best possible job to prevent access. It is the responsibility of the student to honor the Acceptable Use Policy. You and your parents or guardians signed it at the beginning of the year.
Accessing these sites whether blocked or unblocked is a violation of that policy. If you wish to access these sites then I suggest that you do so from your home computer with your parent or guardians consent.

Should you have further questions you may direct them to either Mr. Todd Smith or Mr. Mike Collins at your school as I consider this matter closed.

Steve D. Alexander
Chief Technology Officer
Cabarrus County Schools

"Aucune Pression Aucuns Diamants." - Descartes

"No pressure, no diamonds"


I replied (Also cc: my principals)-


Mr. Alexander,

Thank you for your prompt and informative answer. I hope to, as you said, take this issue up with my principals. As early as this morning I left a note asking for an appointment. Disgruntled as I am to find that the banning of news outlets and youth resources simply because of their "intrest" to "Gay, or lesbian, or bisexual" people is not simply an oversight. I am sure that you mean in no way to discriminate against that group and the portion of your students and faculty that belong to it. I am sorry if you took my message as to indicate that I was accusing you, that was not my intent.

Thank you,

Savannah Seithel
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Tested Sites [Mar. 22nd, 2006|11:25 am]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.


Edited: 3/27/06 3:55pm

A list of sites that are blocked:Collapse )

A list of sites that remain available:Collapse )

A list of sites that are available in other topics:Collapse )

In the newest of the new developments, according to Savannah, you can no longer search for the keyword "gay" (bisexual and lesbian are not blocked as of now). So, it would appear that they're still working out kinks with the firewall system as we are becoming aware of some changes being made and increasing levels of restrictions. I personally feel that this is beginning to imply that it is no accident. As of yet we cannot be certain, please do not yet jump to conclusions.

Neo-nazism sites are filtered under the reason "Racism and Hate," however, this does not appear to apply to homophobia.

Thanks to Savannah and Chelsea for providing the pieces for this list. If you have more please send them my way.
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The Overview [Mar. 22nd, 2006|03:03 am]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.


Hello everybody!

This community will be the staging area for the LGBTQ/Ally community to help fix something that we find to be wrong with the Cabarrus County School District. Namely, that the internet firewall is blocking access to sites that are of particular interest to this community, in deference to other sites that should also be blocked if it were to be kept parallel.

We feel that this is discriminatory, even if it is an accident. We are proceeding right now assuming that the administration of the district will be willing to work with us to fix the problem.

About this page: this will always be updated with the most recent information. Entries will be divided by topic and backdated in order to show which entry has been updated most recently. However, they will only appear on your friends pages when they are posted. Because of that please visit this page to see updates to what is going on.

Feel free to cross-post any and all entries from here to your own journal but please place this link at the top:

This is simply so that everybody will have easy access to the most up-to-date information we have.

Other important things: comments are enabled and are being screened by Nathan. If you use a name in your comment and I can't personally vouch that it is your name it will remain screened. Anything offensive will remain screened. Helpful comments I will open up to the public. Please screen the comments on your cross-posted entries as well.

That is all, thank you very much for your help, support, and interest.

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Conversation with the Chief Technology Officer [Mar. 22nd, 2006|02:50 am]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.

The Chief Technology Officer called me at home at 9:30pm on 3/20/2006 to discuss the email I sent him.

The EmailCollapse )

What I walked away with from this conversation was an understanding of the process which we must take to appeal the decision. I also learned a little bit here and there about the workings of the firewall and the policies that are around in NC. Most all of the information I got has already migrated to need for further understanding and appears on the To-Do List.
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Contact: [Mar. 22nd, 2006|02:49 am]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.


Nathan: firewall@nolongerunknown.com
Savannah: elfchicksarenha@yahoo.com
Chelsea: koolcolors333@aol.com

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What we need to do (who is doing it): [Mar. 22nd, 2006|02:48 am]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.


Edited: 3/23/06 12:30am

If you want to help with any of these please email me or post a comment telling what you'd be willing to do. Thanks in advance for all your support.

  • Draft a request to be included on the agenda at the next CCS Board of Education meeting (on April 10th). (Let me know if you'd like to help.)
  • Find out as much information as possible about the firewall.
    • Find out what version of Websense Enterprise the school system is running. (Let me know if you can help with this.)
      • The current release is 6.1, so that or anything less is a possibility.
      • Social engineering?
      • View source? (The source didn't have the information we needed in it.)
    • Do research into how the Websense Enterprise system works. (Nathan)
  • Compile a list of tested websites (both available and unavailable, left and right wing). We are still interested in adding sites to this list. We are most interested in sites that are open to LGBTQ issues that are not blocked so we can watch and see if they do become blocked. The current version is accessible here. (Let me know if you'd like to help.)
  • Get a copy of the Internet Acceptable Use policy. (Savannah)
  • Find out when the CCS Board Meetings are and what it takes to get on the agenda. (Chelsea)
  • Find out the appeals process for regaining access to filtered websites.
  • Begin the appeals process for enabling access to the websites.
    • Savannah is taking the approach of appealing on the necessity of the sites for the community.
    • Chelsea is taking the approach of appealing on the grounds that she needs access to those sites for one of her school projects.
  • Summarize the parts of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study that have to do with topics that are allowed to be covered. (Let me know if you'd like to help.)
  • Check on the ability to access the sites listed as allowed or denied in the list we compile in other area school districts. (Let me know if you'd like to help.)
  • Summarize the CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act) in the ways that it could possibly relate to this situation (use the full FCC version). (Let me know if you'd like to help.)
  • Find out what the NC Attorney General had to say about community driven sites such as myspace and livejournal. Apparently the AG said something within this past year. (Let me know if you'd like to help.)
  • Summarize the CCS policies which have to do with Internet usage and curriculum contents. (Let me know if you'd like to help.)
  • Raise the community's awareness of this issue.
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Relevant links: [Mar. 22nd, 2006|02:39 am]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.


Edited: 3/22/06 12:15pm

If you have any links that you find to be useful please post them in the comments.

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Other possibly relevant information: [Mar. 22nd, 2006|02:36 am]
CCS Firewall blocks LGBTQ websites. We respond.


Information that we have that may or may not be useful to somebody who is trying to learn more.

  • Talking to the Chief Technology Officer about the firewall *may* put you on a government watchlist, be careful.
  • Students must sign an Internet Acceptable Use policy at the beginning of the year.
  • The "measuring stick" of what sites are made available to the students is the North Carolina Standard Course Of Study.
  • The appeals process goes: Student => Teacher => Administrator/Principal => Chief Technology Officer => Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction => Superintendent => Board of Education + School's Attorney => State Level.
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