Becca Gorman, of Sudbury, Massachusetts, got a bit of a surprise while doing research for a high school project last week. When she looked up the word 'gay' in her MacBook Pro laptop's dictionary, the first two definitions weren't too unexpected: "1 (of a person, esp. a man) homosexual," "2 lighthearted and carefree." But the third definition shocked her: "informal foolish; stupid: making students wait for the light is kind of a gay rule."
"At first, I was kind of in disbelief," the Lincoln-Sudbury High sophomore told Boston ABC affiliate WCVB. Gorman's parents are a lesbian couple, and she was amazed to hear a slur that had been thrown around in high school included in a major company's electronic dictionary. "I felt like they had to take care of it," she said. So she emailed off a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook:
"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. Even with your addition of the word informal, this definition normalizes the terrible derogatory twist that many people put on the word 'gay.'"
As ABC reported, Gorman received a call from Apple only an hour after she sent the email:
"They told me it's so hard to track the dictionaries they're getting sources from," said Gorman. The representative was also shocked at the offensive definition, and that the company would look into the problem.
Earlier this month, Cook penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal encouraging Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection," Cook said in his opinion piece. "But ultimately we all pay a price. If our coworkers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves. When that happens, we undermine people's potential and deny ourselves and our society the full benefits of those individuals' talents."
For now, even though the company Cook leads has robust non-discrimination policies, the questionable definition of 'gay' in its dictionary app persists. In iOS7, the company's most recent mobile operating system, the third definition of 'gay' at least mentions that it is both "informal" and "often offensive." That's a start, but Apple still has a ways to go, and Gorman is committed to making sure the company expunges the definition.
"I feel like we're going to have to make a bigger deal about it before they actually act on it," she said.
Watch ABC News' report, AFTER THE JUMP...