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Online Censorship & Sex Ed

April 18, 2024

From age verification laws creating needless barriers to viewing pornography to book bans targeting “sexually explicit content,” it’s increasingly clear that the moral panic fueling much of the rise in censorship is, at its core, about sex. Whether online or offline, content related to sex is under relentless attack. 

That’s why we at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation partnered with SIECUS to author a resource to explain that if you care about online censorship, you should care about sex ed, and vice versa.

Take the example of internet censorship in U.S. schools, which targets an array of content, including sex ed content. Todd Feathers and Dhruv Mehrotra note that school districts across the U.S. can “restrict what students see online using a patchwork of commercial web filters that block vast and often random swathes of the internet.” For example, Blocksi, a content filtering program, sorts content into 79 pre-set categories to make its blocking decisions, including categories like “alternative beliefs,” “abortion,” “advocacy organizations,” and “sex education.” School staff can then choose which categories to block or allow. 

As Feathers and Mehrotra write, these filters “are preventing kids from finding critical information about their health, identity, and the subjects they’re studying in class.” Or, in the words of Mateo, a senior at Albuquerque Public Schools – which uses the GoGuardian web filter, “I think it’s kind of redundant and almost offensive that they would try to censor everything to such an obscene degree. 

Mateo is right – censorship, like the content filtering programs employed by schools across the country, is offensive and obscene. We recognize that the fight against censorship is a fight to protect our right to freely access critical information, including sex ed. We realize that the goals of sex ed are hard to achieve if sex education content can’t even reach people. 


Students in a classroom.

Image of a teacher standing at the front of a room with students seated at long tables. ()

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