RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. (NEWS 8) - A 15-year-old Rancho Bernardo girl is speaking out about an anti-gay emoji going viral on social media.
Courtney Stivers-Spitz noticed the emoji on Instagram and decided to take a stand.
"I was angry. You can either ignore it or you can speak up about it," she said.
The emoji depicts a gay-pride rainbow flag with a crossed-out circle over the top.
"Nobody should be seeing this, really. This is anti-LGBTQ and I spoke from the heart because it is true," she said.
Since the Rancho Bernardo High School freshman first emailed News 8 on Wednesday, more has been learned about the origin of the emoji.
It's actually not a stand-alone emoji that comes installed on smartphones. Instead, it has to be created by combining the pride flag emoji with a Unicode keyboard shortcut. The result is an anti-gay emoji that has been copied and pasted all over social media.
"I knew about the pride flag itself, it was already there. But I knew that the hate originated from somewhere else," Courtney said.
The origin of the anti-gay emoji is really beside the point, according to a statement issued by San Diego LGBT Pride, the group that sponsors the annual San Diego Pride event in Hillcrest:
When using Unicode characters, it’s possible to put a strike-through circle next to any emoji or character and have it look as if it’s overlaying it. That appears to be what’s happened in this instance. What's important is that all acts of hate or violence towards the LGBTQ community are decried. As we approach the San Diego Pride celebrations in July and honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we look forward to rallying together with our community and allies.
Since the crossed-out circle can be combined with virtually any other emoji, Twitter said using it with a pride flag does not violate its terms of service.
That doesn’t mean it’s not offensive, Courtney said.
"You should not go out in public or go to social media and do that. It's wrong," she said. "It will blow over so be positive about it. Try to push forward."