An Apple a day keeps ex-gays away
Exclusive: Christopher Doyle looks at latest discrimination against the 'questioning'
1:00 am Eastern
Take, for example, last week's decision by computer-giant Apple to remove a prominent Christian ex-gay ministry's application from their market. After less than a month on the market, Exodus International's app was downloaded by over 16,000 individuals. However, activists pressured the company to remove the app, claiming it was offensive to gays and lesbians because it offered a so-called "gay cure," which is nowhere found in the product. Apple caved, in spite of initially giving the app a 4+ rating, meaning it contains no objectionable content.
Apple's decision to discriminate against ex-gays using their own standards is questionable, especially since their policy also states: "Applications that place the targeted individual or group in harm's way will be rejected." One of these dangerous apps is called "Grindr (Gay, bi, & curious guy finder of the same sex)," which uses GPS to locate casual sex partners for men who have sex with men (MSM). According to the Centers for Disease, Control, and Prevention, 53 percent of new HIV infections in the United States occur among MSM.
For companies like Apple, it's purely a numbers game. They're making far more money on gays than ex-gays. After all, Grinder has over 1.5 million users in 180 countries, compared to just 16,000 users for the ex-gay app (before it was pulled). Considering that Apple endorses over 200 applications serving the gay community; it makes perfect cents (sense). But Apple's a private company, so they can do what they want, right?
Actually, they cannot. Because Apple is headquartered in California – which has sexual-orientation non-discrimination laws for almost all employers – they cannot engage in sexual-orientation discrimination, even as a private company. Exodus International needs only to file a complaint with the California Equal Employment Opportunity (or Human Rights) Office and Apple is ripe for a lawsuit. Then again, with scarce financial resources, ex-gay organizations have little ability to wage legal warfare, and big companies like Apple know it.
But this issue is much more serious in colleges and universities across the United States, nearly all of which receive some form of federal funding (also known as "your tax dollars"). Visit one of the university library's Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersex (GLBTQI) sections and you'll find plenty of pro-gay titles, from science to fiction. Better yet, visit most campuses these days and you'll even find an entire center of resources, from literature and support groups, to medical care and a full-range of counseling services, specifically devoted to LGBTQI students. But what you won't find is a single resource intended to help young people overcome their unwanted homosexual attractions.
Case in point: A young man recently walked into the office of the LGBTQI Resource Center at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., seeking help for his unwanted same-sex attractions. When he asked for resources to help him remain true to his values and convictions, he was rudely dismissed. Further, the director of the center called into question the legitimacy of the student's sexual identity, claiming that "a majority of people would not accept an individual who self-identified as having a heterosexual identity, but with a homosexual orientation."
In other words, the "Q" in this LGBTQI center is not intended for homosexuals questioning their gay identity. The blatant hypocrisy of such examples shows that tolerance only goes as far as those in power are willing to afford it to whatever group shouts the loudest and longest.
Companies like Apple may be able to cater to larger sexual minorities if they want to; they're playing the odds, hoping ex-gays will quietly retreat. But federally funded universities – which have far less resources to fight off legal challenges – better think twice before they discriminate against those with unwanted same-sex attraction, or they will be opening themselves up to a new host of sexual-orientation discrimination lawsuits. Apple may be able to keep ex-gays away, but the government cannot.