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Apple Should Dump 'Ex-Gay' iPhone App

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Exodus International, the notorious "ex-gay" organization, recently 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? I beg to differ. Exodus fraudulently claims to offer "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ" and they use a hateful and bigoted message replete with 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. Equally harmful is the practice of "spiritual warfare," which Exodus promotes as another weapon in the fight against homosexuality. Most people know this practice by a different name -- exorcism.

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 peers and 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 eight times more likely to have attempted suicide, six times as vulnerable to severe depression, and three times more likely to use drugs. Interestingly, the Exodus app also purports to offer advice on "responding to bullying." I shudder to think what that advice might entail, considering Exodus' vocal opposition to LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying legislation.

But Exodus' anti-gay politics go far beyond bullying. Don Schmierer, an Exodus International board member, keynoted the March 2009 conference in Kampala, Uganda that stoked the fires of anti-gay hatred and culminated in that nation's infamous "Kill the Gays" Bill. Schmierer's attendance, with the public blessing of Exodus International, lent Exodus' name, fundamentalist credibility, and tacit approval to the conference's destructive message and the brutal legislative and vigilante violence that followed.

Apple doesn't allow racist or anti-Semitic apps in its app store, yet it gives the green light to an app written by an anti-gay extremist group that condones violence against LGBT people and targets vulnerable sexual-minority 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 my organization, Truth Wins Out, and demand that the iTunes store stop supporting homophobia and remove the Exodus app.

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