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News Analysis Apr 4, 2022 2:05 AM EST

Apple demands states enact laws to bolster grooming efforts in schools and destroy women's sports

Apple spokesperson Peter Ajemian confirmed in a statement that the company "regularly lobbies" against anti-grooming legislation "across the states, just as we did in Florida."

Apple demands states enact laws to bolster grooming efforts in schools and destroy women's sports
Leonardo Briceno The Post Millennial

Following the enactment of Florida's anti-grooming law, Apple is reportedly sending its lobbyists into states passing similar pro-parental rights legislations in an attempt to stop the bills or overturn them.

According to recent reporting by Politico, one of the world's most valuable companies is working with policymakers and advocacy groups across the country to strategize and file court briefs against laws they say infringe LGBTQ rights.

An email recovered by Politico reveals how senior leadership within Apple's corporate structure has pushed to use the company's resources to advocate against these types of laws.

Following the passage of a transgender investigation order in Texas, Fred Sainz, Apple's senior director of corporate communications, reportedly asked leadership at other Fortune 500 companies to join Apple in their opposition to the state's action. "Apple has joined the effort and will lend its name and logo," Sainz wrote in early March. "I'm reaching out because we are hoping you will too."

In response, 60 companies signed onto this letter.

Apple's stance against such bills could pose a risk to the tech giant. According to Politico, Republicans in Iowa have argued that the company should no longer receive state subsidies in response to its stance against legislation protecting women's sports from biological male athletes.

"Apple framed the law as part of a ‘social agenda’ rather than fairness for women’s sports," Republican Iowa state Sen. Zach Nunn told Fox News last month. "That becomes a concerning issue when we have a major industry who attempts to come in and force public policy based on an agenda they may have in a boardroom out of state."

Apple hasn't often involved itself in political issues. The company does not reportedly have a political action committee, nor does it make campaign donations. It also maintains a smaller federal lobbying presence than its fellow tech companies, and does not often engage in policy issues-related discussions with news media.

But despite this, four organizers on the ground in states where legislation is moving told Politico that the company is one of the most active corporate advocates for LGBTQ rights behind the scenes.

Apple spokesperson Peter Ajemian confirmed in a statement that the company "regularly lobbies" against anti-grooming (so-called "anti-LGBTQ+" by its opponents) legislation "across the states, just as we did in Florida."

"The company has tried to leverage its greatest assets — the popularity of its products and the size of its employee base in the US — to crush the legislation," Politico reported.

Apple's advocacy efforts reportedly are entailed by its close partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, where the company is one of the most active members in the group's corporate membership calls, and commonly urges peers to get involved with the campaign's state-level battles. The company though does not usually work much with state advocacy groups.

This was noted in regards to Florida's law, which opponents have falsely dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, despite the bill not containing this phrasing.

Equality Florida, a pro-LGBTQ group, said in an email that its staff hadn't noticed any of Apple's lobbying in regards to Florida.

Democratic Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who opposes the legislation, said he "never heard from Apple" in regards to lobbying efforts against the bill.

"Right now, we're in a moment where corporations are being challenged on where they stand and lobby on social issues," Jones said. "This is a teachable moment for them to realize that the moment these things come out drafting and get filed, they should step up right then and there."

In Arizona, Apple reportedly has nine registered lobbyists that have been fighting against a slew of legislation recently passed that protects women's sports as well as children from irreversible gender reassignment surgeries.

"Apple has been an incredible partner for the LGBTQ community," said Democratic Arizona state Rep. César Chávez, who has opposed a slew of legislation that Governor Doug Ducey recently signed into law.

Despite this behind-the-scenes effort, some are skeptical of Apple's involvement.

The company's App Store and developers have previously censored LGBTQ-centered apps in 152 countries around the globe, though Apple has countered that these apps were taken down by the developers themselves, and a few were taken down for legal reasons.

"Apple has such restrictive and monopolistic app store policies, it creates a convenient chokepoint for authoritarianism and discrimination," said Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future. "That's how I evaluate a company — they can wave the rainbow flag all they want but at the end of the day, Apple is conducting itself in a manner that’s harming my community."

A number of states, including Iowa, Utah, North Dakota, and the aforementioned Republican-led Florida and Texas, have enacted similar bills protecting school-aged children and women's spaces.

Last month, the "Parental Rights in Education" bill was signed into law, which prohibits age-inappropriate classroom instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade in Florida classrooms.

As the bill passed through the legislative chambers in Florida, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, took to Twitter to express his disapproval.

"As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am deeply concerned about laws being enacted across the country, particularly those focused on our vulnerable youth," Cook, who is gay himself, said on Twitter.

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