The chicken sandwich is not worth the homophobia

Chick-fil-A’s promises to halt anti-LGBTQ+ donations have fallen flat, making eating at the restaurant immoral and wrong

Before the pandemic abruptly took the world by storm two years ago, 2020 was seen as a year of possibilities, even to fast food restaurant chains. 

Chick-fil-A, notorious for their long history of donating to charities with anti-LGBTQ stances, claimed to be turning over a new leaf, taking a more “focused giving approach” by turning their funds toward “education, the homeless and hunger,” according to a press release Chick-fil-A issued in Nov. 2019. Nine million was set aside to be distributed to Junior Achievement USA, Covenant House International and local food banks in cities where the chain has locations. What wasn’t said directly was that Chick-Fil-A also intended to halt their donations to homophobic organizations. Some LGBTQ-rights groups saw this as a step in the right direction, as Drew Anderson, the GLAAD director of campaigns, said that they received this message with “cautious optimism.” But, like Anderson also pointed out, statements like these have been heard before and were “proven to be empty.” 

There are many reasons why we should all avoid supporting Chick-fil-A at all costs, and its forgotten promise back in 2012 is high on the list. In September of that year, the Chicago-based Civil Rights Agenda issued a statement claiming that Chick-fil-A had promised to “no longer give to anti-gay organizations, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.” At the time, Chick-fil-A also released a statement claiming that they had “no agenda, policy or position against anyone,” and that they value all individuals “regardless of their beliefs or opinions.” But, as you can guess, the company’s donations to anti-LGBTQ groups nevertheless continued. 

The promises’ hollow nature was revealed by a report conducted by ThinkProgress in 2017; researchers found that the company donated $1.8 million to three organizations heavily known for their discrimination against the LGBTQ community. $1,653,416 went to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious group that forbids its employees from engaging in “homosexual acts;” $150,000 went to Salvation Army, an organization that has been accused of homophobic discrimination and advocacy for many years and whose media relations director said homosexuals “deserve death;” and $6,000 went to Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Christian residential home that teaches young boys in their curriculum that same-sex marriage is a “rage against Jesus Christ.” 

These donations were defended by Chick-fil-A officials, as they claimed the actions were on track with their goals to fund children’s programs and sports camps—no hidden homophobic agenda involved. But the pattern with anti-LGBTQ sentiment is undeniable and hardly hidden, dating back to the founder of Chick-fil-A himself with his own charitable organization created in 1984 called the WinShape Foundation. Still alive and kicking today, this organization has donated millions to anti-LGBTQ charities such as the Marriage & Family Foundation, the Georgia Family Council and Exodus International, a group that openly promoted conversion therapy until its demise in 2013. 

Even the well-known, positive reputation the chain has for how it treats its workers has some questionable holes in its policies and skeletons in its closet. Anderson from GLAAD pointed out that the company “still lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees” despite the issue being brought up to officials, and the chain also had a Muslim employee sue on the basis of religious discrimination in 2002. Years after a national boycott of the chain erupted in 2012 when news came out of who the company financially supported, the chain still holds a spot in the top three fast-food brands of the United States. 

Chick-fil-A is deeply rooted in, and is still surrounded by, homophobic and transphobic sentiments. Continuing to support the business on the basis of it “tasting good” isn’t excusable, just as “ignorance” isn’t applicable today. Social media is no stranger to the Chick-fil-A scheme, meaning most of us aren’t either. We know who Chick-fil-A supports, and we know where the money is going. 

Some may say we can “separate the art from the artist,” or, in this case, the chicken sandwich from the homophobia, but that doesn’t change the fact that money spent at Chick-fil-A funds discrimination and bigotry. The consequences of buying from the chain will be harmful, as Chick-fil-A’s history of perpetuating hate and discrimination undeniably shows. It’s time to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions and choose a more supportive and progressible alternative.