News - December 1995

GLAAD criticizes blocking of gay and lesbian online resources

NEW YORK -- The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has criticized the Massachusetts-based Microsystems Software Inc. for its software that blocks gay and lesbian resource Web pages. The blocking is done by a software program, "Cyber Patrol." As more legislation aimed at controlling the Internet comes into place, software companies have been creating software to keep children away from sexually explicit Web sites.

While stressing that GLAAD believes that it is up to the parents to decide what information is made available to their children, William Waybourn, Managing Director of GLAAD noted that Cyber Patrol casts a wide pattern that eliminates quality resource materials for lesbians and gay youth.

World Wide Web resources being blocked include the San Jose gay and lesbian paper OutNOW!; gay and lesbian community center sites in San Jose and New York; resource guides from gay student groups at UC Berkeley and Stanford; a performing arts center in San Francisco, a weekly guide to broadcast programs with gay themes or characters; lesbian and gay employee groups; as well as the site for the 1998 Gay Games. "These sites are far from being sexually explicit, if that's their fear," Waybourn said.

"The Internet has become a link to the community for many young gay and lesbian people," Waybourn said. "Taking away resource materials leads to ignorance and avoids getting help to individuals who are dealing with their sexual identity. Denial is a strong weapon against human sexuality and to keep young people in the closet leads to tremendous image or self-esteem problems later on," he said.

Many gay and lesbians web sites were initially blocked by another software company, SurfWatch Software of Los Altos, California, which revised its guidelines after strong protests from lesbian and gay organizations and individuals.

"These self-appointed protectors of the Internet are another example of how our nation is slowly handed over to the radical right," stated Chris Thomas, the publisher of OutNOW!, "It's important to let people know that such software represents a threat to the continued freedom and integrity of the Internet." OutNOW! has been on the Internet since 1994.

GLAAD encourages its members to write Microsystems Software, Inc. to reserves its decision to block gay and lesbian resources on the Internet. Write Microsystems Software, Inc. at cyberinf@microsys.com. The Cyber Patrol web page is located at http://www.cyberpatrol.com

GLAAD is a national organization that promotes fair, accurate and inclusive representation of individuals and events in the media as a means of challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation or identify.

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