About a hundred Google employees are asking San Francisco to boot the tech giant from the city's annual Pride parade over the company's handling of hate speech online. "We have spent countless hours advocating for our company to improve policies and practices regarding the treatment of LGBTQ+ persons, the depiction of LGBTQ+ persons, and harassment and hate speech directed at LGBTQ+ persons, on YouTube and other Google products," the employees write in an open letter. "Whenever we press for change, we are told only that the company will 'take a hard look at these policies.' But we are never given a commitment to improve, and when we ask when these improvements will be made, we are always told to be patient." Google has specifically come under fire in recent weeks for its response to racist and homophobic jokes made by conservative comedian and commentator Steven Crowder on his YouTube channel.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, initially said the videos did not violate its policies; after criticism, it demonetized Crowder's channel but did not remove the videos, Bloomberg reports. The video streaming site has also been criticized for failing to remove other, similar content, reports Engadget. "If another official platform, YouTube, allows abuse and hate and discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons, then Pride must not provide the company a platform that paints it in a rainbow veneer of support for those very persons," the letter states. However, the San Francisco Pride Celebration Committee said in a statement Wednesday that Google "has historically been a strong ally to LGBTQ+ communities" and will still participate in the parade. For its part, Google said via a spokesperson that employees in its "Gaygler" community are split, with some having signed on to a counter-petition backing Google's participation in Pride. (Read more Google stories.)