HONOLULU (AP) — A sexual health information app called "Hula" will be changing its name after complaints that it is culturally insensitive to Native Hawaiians, the app's owner said Tuesday.
Ramin Bastani, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Qpid.me Inc., said that after weeks of learning to understand concerns of the Native Hawaiian community, he's moving forward with the name change.
"We immediately engaged the community and listened with an open mind," he said. "By doing so, we gained a great respect for hula, the Hawaiian culture and its history."
An online petition asking him to change the name argued that it exploits a sacred cultural dance. Bastani previously said the name would remain, even after the petition gained some attention in March, but he immediately removed any references to "getting lei'd" in marketing the app.
"As we continued to listen and learn, we realized this is the right thing for us to do," he said. Recently, the controversy seemed to die down, he said, but that "quiet period" allowed the company to "truly reflect."
Bastani apologized to anyone who was offended by the name.
"That was absolutely never our intent," he said.
On Friday, the state Senate Hawaiian Affairs Caucus and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs issued a statement calling the name "highly insensitive, tactless and inappropriate."