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Mass. Teen Calls on Apple to Change Definition of ’Gay’

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Nov 13, 2013

A Massachusetts teenager wants Apple officials to change the mega computer company's definition of the word "gay" in its dictionary, the Metrowest Daily News reports.

Becca Gorman, 15, from Sudbury, Mass., (about 22 miles west of Boston), started a campaign for Apple to change its definition of "gay" after she looked up the word in Apple's dictionary while doing research for a school project.

According to Apple the third and informal definition of "gay" says "foolish; stupid," with the example, "making students wait for the light is kind of a gay rule." When EDGE searched the word Apple did define "gay" as "foolish; stupid" but the example Gorman provided to the Metrowest Daily News did not appear.

"At first, I was kind of in disbelief," the high school student told the newspaper. She added she searched the word in other dictionaries but none defined it the same offensive way as Apple.

Gorman's parents are lesbians and she says the phrase "that's so gay" is used often around her, but she says she didn't expect Apple to define "gay" in a similar way.

"I felt like they had to take care of it," she said. After talking to her parents, Gorman sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and asked him to remove the offensive definition.

"I assume that you are a pro-gay company, and would never intend for any one of your products to be as offensive as this definition was," the teen wrote in her letter to Cook. "Even with your addition of the word informal, this definition normalizes the terrible derogatory twist that many people put on the word 'gay.'"

Gorman said that an official from Apple called her about an hour of sending the email to Cook.

"They told me it's so hard to track the dictionaries they're getting sources from, and that they were also shocked themselves," she said. The representative told Gorman Apple would look into the issue, but the teen says nothing has been changed.

"I feel like we're going to have to make a bigger deal about it before they actually act on it," she told the Metrowest Daily News.

Apple has been a longtime supporter of LGBT rights. Earlier this month Cook wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal and voiced his support for the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban LGBT discrimination.

"As we see it, embracing people's individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights," Cook wrote. "It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We've found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives."


  • , 2013-11-13 14:04:21

    In all fairness, the definition of words do changes over the years. Before "gay" was slang for homosexual, it was slang for happy. And the term is widely used as they described so it would be stupid to not include it in the definition. Just because you exclude it from the official definition, that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to continue to be used that way.

  • , 2013-11-20 10:30:34

    The dictionary is a reference work and to say that carrying a definition ’normalises’ it’s use and therefore it should be removed takes us down a very uncomfortable path. This amounts to censorship of the worst type. Should the ’N’ word be removed, or the ’Y’ word because some find it offensive. Dictionaries are there to document the world we live in and not the world we would like to live in.

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