NEW YORK, NY, WEDNESDAY, JULY 22, 1998--The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) expressed profound disappointment with the United States Senate's passage of two provisions which may significantly impede public access to information on the Internet.
The provisions directly affect two Congressional Acts. The "Internet School Filtering Act" (S. 1619) was introduced by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and would require that, in order to be eligible for the "e-rate"--which provides Federal funding for Internet connections--schools and libraries would need first to be certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as having "selected a system for computers with Internet access to filter or block matter deemed to be inappropriate for minors." The so-called "CDA II" (S. 1482), named after the failed Communications Decency Act (CDA), was sponsored by Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and would censor materials deemed "harmful to minors."
While the appropriations bill was passed in the Senate, it still requires approval in the House of Representatives before it becomes law. Jennifer H. Einhorn, GLAAD Director of Communications said, "We urge the House to step back before voting on this bill, and examine its implications from a point of view they may otherwise not yet have explored. Being a teenager is an awkward and often isolating time. In a society in which the Senate Majority Leader equates millions of his fellow citizens with criminals and alcoholics, it is not surprising that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth experience that isolation to an even greater degree than their peers. It is crucial that these youth not be denied access to the Internet, which has an unparalleled ability to provide them with essential support and educational resources."
"The passage of this bill effectively holds true education hostage by allowing students access to only a narrow and confining view of the vast world in which we live," said Kevin Jennings, Executive Director of GLSEN. "The McCain bill provides an imperfect and devastating solution to an issue that should have encouraged an open dialogue."
GLAAD plans to continue its work educating both the public and government on this issue. In December of 1997, GLAAD released a comprehensive and groundbreaking report called Access Denied, which brought to the attention of the American public the impact of Internet filtering software on the lesbian, gay and progressive community. To order a copy, contact GLAAD at 1.800.GAY.MEDIA or visit the Access Denied Web site at: http://www.glaad.org/glaad/access_denied/index.html .