U of M's Gary Remafedi joins fight against "anti-gay" iPhone app

Dr. Remafedi is still chasing his own research down the "anti-gay" rabbithole.
Dr. Remafedi is still chasing his own research down the "anti-gay" rabbithole.

Nearly a year ago, Dr. Gary Remafedi learned his research for the Youth and AIDS Project was being used in a campaign urging schools to eliminate gay-straight alliances and other forms of support for questioning teens. Remafedi, who's dedicated his life to improving outreach to gay youth, has fought to get his name removed from the material.

Now the same citation has popped up in a new form--an iPhone app from Exodus International, a "ministry to individuals and families impacted by homosexuality."

Exodus International is a Christian organization that believes that "unwanted same-sex attraction" can be cured. They serve as an umbrella for a couple hundred like-minded ministries.

In February, Exodus launched its app in the iTunes store. It's free in the "Lifestyle" category and connects users to Exodus International's Facebook page, a list of approved events and videos. It also provides links to Exodus's website, which includes answers to the FAQ, "If people are same-sex attracted but don't ever act on it, does that make them homosexual?"

The question is in part answered, "A major study by the University of Minnesota . . . revealed that many young people may be confused about their sexuality in their early teens, but among this uncertain group, the vast majority will turn out to be heterosexual."

The cited study is Remafedi's.

"This group now has distorted the findings from that research," he says. "I also don't want to be associated with these groups."

Remafedi says his study actually shows that adolescents who experience homosexual feelings at a young age eventually come to terms with it, and that includes coming out. Because of First Amendment issues, he's been unsuccessful in getting groups to stop citing his work in their literature. However, he says it's a whole other ballgame with an iPhone app. And he's going straight for Steve Jobs.

He sent off a letter to Jobs and Tim Cook yesterday saying the app violates their "objectionable content" standards. He asks that its "4+" rating be removed, or better yet, that the app be deleted from the iPhone store altogether.

"Associating my work with that of the ex-gay ministry and other unfounded treatments is professionally injurious and grievous," he wrote.

The group Truth Wins Out has been waging war on the app since February and collected over 136,000 signatures on an online petition asking Apple to take it down. But while they have not heard from Apple, Remafedi had much better luck. Hours after he sent the letter, he got a call from an Apple rep.

"They were on it," he says. "I'm sure they'll do the right thing."

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