Tech giant Apple faced considerable pressure to pull an app from its App Store, produced by Exodus International, that advocated "curing" gay people of their sexual orientation. After 150,000 emails from Change.org members, and considerable pressure from the group Truth Wins Out, Apple pulled the app, agreeing that it was offensive and in violation of their editorial standards. John Becker, Director of Communications and Development with Truth Wins Out, thanked Change.org members for helping push Apple on this issue. "Truth Wins Out was honored to have the support of more than 150,000 Change.org members, who helped send a message to Apple that 'ex-gay' therapy is dangerous, harmful, damaging, and has no place on the iTunes platform," said Becker. "This is really a testament to how the power of online organizing can be harnessed to advance social change and confront homophobia."
Exodus International, the notorious "ex-gay" organization, has just released an iPhone app that, according to its website, is "designed to be a useful resource for men, women, parents, students, and ministry leaders." The Exodus website further boasts that its app received a 4+ rating from Apple, meaning that it contains "no objectionable content."
No objectionable content? We beg to differ. Exodus' message is hateful and bigoted. They claim to offer "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ" and use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients. They endorse the use of so-called "reparative therapy" to "change" the sexual orientation of their clients, despite the fact that this form of "therapy" has been rejected by every major professional medical organization including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association. But reparative therapy isn't just bad medicine -- it's also very damaging to the self-esteem and mental health of its victims.
This new iPhone app is the latest move in Exodus' dangerous new strategy of targeting youth. In light of the recent wave of LGBT youth suicides, this tactic is particularly galling as it creates, legitimizes, and fuels the ostracism of LGBT youth by their families. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, LGBT teens who experienced negative feedback from their family were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times as vulnerable to severe depression, and 3 times more likely to use drugs (Caitlin Ryan, San Francisco State University, June 2009).
Apple's app guidelines, released last September, detailed rules on how the company decides what can and cannot be sold through its store: "Any app that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harms way will be rejected," the company states.
Apple doesn't allow racist or anti-Semitic apps in its app store, yet it is giving the green light to an app targeting vulnerable LGBT youth with the message that their sexual orientation is a "sin that will make your heart sick" and a "counterfeit." This is a double standard that has the potential for devastating consequences.
Apple needs to be told, loud and clear, that this is unacceptable. Stand with Truth Wins Out -- demand that the iTunes store stop supporting homophobia and remove the Exodus app.