Apple’s Poor Choice in Rejecting Gay App

iPhonesApple received a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, a rank of companies based on their treatment of LGBT employees. The company has an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy and partner benefits, and is generally considered to be LGBT-friendly.

But a recent move by Apple may call into question the company’s stance on LGBT issues. For the second time, Apple rejected the app “Gay New York: 101 Can’t-Miss Places.”

The application violated Section 3.3.17 of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, which states that “Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”

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Outing Gay Men By Their Facebook Friends

Using the “Interested In” field on Facebook, users can self-identify as straight, gay, or bisexual. LGBT people who aren’t out of the closet can leave the field blank and not list their sexual orientation on their page.

But if you don’t want to be out on Facebook, you may want to be careful who you accept as a friend.  MIT students designed an algorithm to determine a user’s sexual orientation based on their friends’ sexual orientations. Tests of the algorithm show that it is fairly successful in determining the sexuality of gay men (but not, however, very good at identifying lesbians or bisexual men and women).

With all the buzz about Facebook and privacy, users are concerned perhaps more than ever with controlling their information. But controlling your information is more difficult when it can be predicted by information on your friends’ profiles.

Luckily the algorithm only makes predictions, and can’t actually out anyone with complete accuracy. But why does the algorithm work so well?

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Be Careful What You Wear in Oakland

Boys, put on your suits and girls, put on your dresses. In some places, wearing clothing made for your gender is not just a question of social acceptance but it’s dictated by law.

According to Oakland’s Code of Ordinances, cross-dressing is illegal. Immoral Dress Code 9.08.080 says: “It is unlawful for any person in the city to appear in any public place nude or in the attire of a person of the opposite sex, or in any indecent or lewd attire.” This outdated law was put in place in 1879 but remains in Oakland law today.

Oakland is one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the United States, with a sizable population of LGBT people. But cross-dressing isn’t just an issue affecting LGBT people. It isn’t only masculine women or feminine men who cross-dress, but women on the police and fire departments or men and women who don’t devote themselves to strictly following gender norms. People of all sexual orientations and gender identities could easily be charged with a misdemeanor for cross-dressing.

Androgyny and blurring gender is a popular style embraced by mainstream culture and stores such as American Apparel. So what happens to all these “immoral” cross-dressers?

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Risky Sexual Behavior Hits All Sexual Orientations

When it comes to the subject of STDs and unprotected anal sex, gay men are often the target of the conversation. But new research by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggests that straight people could learn a thing or two about protection from gay men.

More than 100,000 women in NYC have anal sex each year. And unprotected anal sex, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can be far more dangerous than other sexual activities. The probability of getting HIV for a receptive partner engaging in sex with someone with HIV is about five times higher for anal sex than vaginal sex.

Yet, only 23 percent of women use condoms during anal sex, compared to 61 percent of gay men. Meanwhile, only 35 percent of women who engaged in unprotected anal sex got tested for HIV, compared to 63 percent of women who use a condom during anal sex. Clearly, many women are not understanding how important it is to use condoms and get tested.

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Britain’s First Baby with Two Moms on Her Birth Certificate

LGBT parents are often prone to discrimination when they want to adopt. Their parenting abilities are scrutinized, and they face great expense for medical procedures and legal fees. The process of making two gay parents legal guardian to a child is difficult and time-consuming.

In Britain, Lily-May Woods was born with two women as parents on her birth certificate. Lily-May’s birth mother, Natalie, is designated as ‘mother,’ while Natalie’s partner Betty is listed as ‘parent.’

This positive news comes after the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act of 2008, which gives partners in same-sex relationships equal status as parents. When the sperm donor is known, the sperm donor legally becomes the child’s father. But since Natalie and Betty chose an anonymous sperm donor, Lily-May doesn’t have a father listed on the birth certificate. The parents selected the sperm donor from a choice of four men based on records of his health, personality, looks, and motives for donating.

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Bisexual Men Not Gay Enough for Gay Softball

Three bisexual softball players were discriminated against due to their sexuality, and suspended from playing after a 2008 championship game. Sounds like the all-too-common discrimination against non-heterosexuals from athletic organizations, right? But this time, it was different.

The men were suspended from a gay athletic organization, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association (NAGAAA), and their team was disqualified after its second-place finish in the championship game. The organization has a discriminatory rule limiting each team to only two heterosexuals. The three players were interrogated about their sexuality and voted “nongay” after self-identifying as bisexual.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has filed a lawsuit against the NAGAA on behalf of the three men. The NCLR is defending the bisexual players on the grounds that the NAGAA broke state public accommodations law.

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Resistance to Loving Transgender People Is Bogus

Gay men like men and lesbian women like women. But what happens when those boundaries aren’t so clear?

Transgender, genderqueer, agender, and other gender-variant individuals can challenge traditional lines of sexual orientation and cause people to bring their sexuality into question.

Most people understand their sexual orientation around the assumption that sex matches with gender. In other words, people say they’re attracted either to men with male bodies or women with female bodies. But the truth of the matter is that not everyone falls under those categories, yet they are still attractive to many.

As LGBT people, a lot goes into forming our sexual identity. We have to come out of the closet and then deal with friends and family members who think it’s immoral to love who we love. But this added connection to our sexual orientation does not mean it’s OK to immediately discount gender-variant people.

Change.org writer Daniel wrote about biphobia and how the fluidity and flexibility of sexuality can be threatening to gay people. Similarly, many people are threatened by the notion of dating a transgender person, because that blurs the lines of who we can find attractive. There are many possible hurdles one could face when dating a transgender person, including rejection from the community or lack of visibility as a queer person. But when lesbians and gays are choosing a partner, they should stand by the same principles that brought them out of the closet. It is important to live your life honestly and openly regardless of prejudices from those around you. It’s not right to avoid dating a transgender person just because the relationship may be less socially accepted.

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Suing for the Right to Discriminate

What happens when freedom of religion comes face-to-face with anti-discrimination policies? We’ll find out soon.

The Supreme Court is about to consider a case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, against the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. A campus religious group called the Christian Legal Society claims they are being denied religious freedom and free speech because the college is requiring them to follow its anti-discrimination policy. The group refuses to allow gay students and nonbelievers into its leadership, while still expecting to remain an official student organization.

To become a voting member in the Christian Legal Society, students are required to sign a statement of faith showing support for “biblical principles of sexual morality.” The group also explicitly includes in their statement that those who advocate or engage in homosexual conduct cannot be voting members or group leaders.

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Fox News Blasts the Day of Silence

Tomorrow, students from thousands of schools across the nation will be participating in the Day of Silence, sponsored by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Students who oppose anti-gay bullying will remain silent during the school day to take a stand against bullying and harassment and illustrate the effects of silencing LGBT students.

According to Fox News, the Day of Silence is a waste of tax dollars. Instead of covering the prevalence of bullying in schools, Fox News gave a not so “fair and balanced” report of why “family advocacy groups” are taking a stand against the Day of Silence.

Apparently, the Day of Silence is so offensive that it makes for grounds to pull other students out of school for the day. I never knew that silence was so disruptive! Opponents of the Day of Silence expressed concern that it would interfere with instructional time.

I’m not sure how a few students remaining silent interferes with learning. Besides, if a parent is bothered by any disruptions to their child’s learning, the last thing they should do is pull their child out of class and prevent them from learning at all.

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Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay in Schools” Bill

Students go to school to learn, not to hear propaganda. School curricula should contain the facts so that students can make educated decisions about the world around them.

Whether or not someone supports gay marriage, adoption, or other gay rights issues, the fact that gay people exist is indisputable. Clearly then, teachers should not be banned from discussing homosexuality.

But Tennessee House Representative Stacey Campfield is trying to hide the truth from children. He introduced H.B. 0821, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would prevent teachers from mentioning homosexuality in elementary or middle school.

Luckily, the Tennessee House K-12 Education Subcommittee sent the bill to the state Board of Education to study it further, essentially killing the bill until the next legislative session. This is the second year in a row that the same subcommittee killed the bill. But why did they send it to the Board of Education instead of simply voting against it?

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