Tech platforms have purged apps that promote discredited gay conversion therapy, but organic search results can still steer users to anti-LGBTQ groups.
In March, Google caved to pressure from groups including Truth Wins Out and the Human Rights Campaign, removing an app from its app store made by Living Hope Ministries that claimed to help people change their sexuality, but this was only after Amazon and Apple had both taken the app down in December 2018. Anti-LGBTQ groups had likely manipulated Google-owned YouTube’s algorithm in 2018 so that hateful ads would play before LGBTQ YouTubers’ content. YouTube has since addressed this problem, although the platform has more recently has come under fire for failing to ban YouTubers who repeatedly target LGBTQ people for harassment. (At the Code conference on June 10, YouTube CEO Susan Wojicki apologized to the LGBTQ community, but defended the decision not to take down such videos.)
But even now, if a parent searches Google for information about a child they suspect might be LGBTQ, it’s likely that Focus on the Family will be in their top five results. When I Googled “gay child” on June 7, 2019, two of the top three results were from Focus on the Family, including an article entitled “When a Loved One Says, ‘I’m Gay’: The Stages of Grief.” When I Googled, “I think my child is gay,” the fourth ranking result was another Focus on the Family article, “Parent Suspects That Child Might Be Gay.” This page included a link to a pamphlet, also created by Focus on the Family, that stated “Men become men by doing the ‘things that men do,’ including… engaging in physical activities, creating, working to prevail, leading, and relating to other men,” and that “… for boys who fail to properly internalize masculinity ‘struggles with identity and sexuality will almost always follow.’”