A KILWINNING school pupil has hit out at North Ayrshire Council’s online filtering system after it would not let him research gay rights – saying the phrase was pornographic.

And 17-year-old Stephen Kyle discovered that the software used in North Ayrshire Council schools blocks out numerous phrases and he said that it will stop the learning process.

The council said they were ‘unaware’ that theword gay was blocked and that they are looking in to other phrases too.

Stephen is currently studying for highers and advanced highers and was researching during a study period.

He explained: “This was during a study period and I was doing my own research as we are just past LGBT History Month and they had posters up around the school. I was looking up Section 28 and I searched ‘gay rights’ and when it came up I was like ‘Oh, this is banned’.

“I first thought ‘Oh’ but I heard of things being blocked before but that was just the word gay without context.

“I was curious so I searched ‘gay rights’ on my phone and there was no porn, nothing there, google only shows that if you specify.”

Stephen decided to do research on what else was blocked and he came across a raft of other phrases that had been banned.

He said: “The Wikipedia page for Transgender was blocked under sex education so I thought maybe they were a bit spotty with enforcement but the wiki page for homophobia was blocked under hate speech.

“A company called Net Sweep from Canada provide the service.

“Abortion was also banned but we studied a topic on abortion in S3, how can you taught about something but not research it? The Wikipedia page for Domestic Abuse is also blocked under sex education.

“This is how debate gets closed down, there is almost certainly more but I don’t know what happens when you search things and it might get flagged that I reached seven or eight blocked pages in a day.”

Stephen raised the issues with the council and blames the system for being flawed.

He added: “You don’t just go into a shop and buy something and you are given it without checking that it works.

“This doesn’t just impact on one person, this affects all pupils. Not everyone has the chance to access it [the internet] and school might be their only chance but this is being closed down.

“I don’t see it as North Ayrshire Council being homophobic, they have been in the school and they are pretty good people. They have bought a system and it is not doing what it is supposed to.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “The web filtering software is provided by an external company and various words/phrases are blocked to ensure that pupils are not exposed to content that is not suitable for them.

“We were unaware that the word “gay” was blocked and when drawn to our attention this was unblocked.

“We will look at the other words/phrases mentioned and, if it is deemed appropriate, these will also be unblocked.