By Joseph P. Laycock
The Satanic Temple (TST) has another legal challenge on the horizon, this time concerning which websites students can access from public schools. In February, Malcolm Jarry of TST’s executive ministry received two emails from students complaining that TST’s website is blocked on school computers, though they were able to access the websites for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim organizations. Jarry reached out both to the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the ACLU and letters were sent to the school districts informing them that this was a form of religious discrimination.
The school districts, Southwest Dubois County Schools in Indiana and Federal Hocking Local Schools in Ohio, explained that they had never blocked TST’s website and that the task of determining which web content students can access is outsourced to a company called Lightspeed Systems, headquartered in Austin, Texas. Someone at Lightspeed Systems had manually tagged TST’s website as “mature,” meaning students could not access it from schools. “There is no mature content on our website,” said Jarry, “not even an R-rated word.” RD asked whether there might be an image of a Francisco Goya painting featuring naked witches. “No,” he answered, “Not even that.”
The two school districts that received letters were able to unblock TST’s site, but this didn’t solve the problem as far as Jarry was concerned. Lightspeed Systems is active in 35 countries and contracts with 6,500 school districts in the United States alone. The company estimates that 15 million students are affected by their software. TST sent two letters to Lightspeed Systems, both of which went unanswered.
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