Reporting on Chick-fil-A was all over the web last month when ThinkProgress uncovered 2017 tax returns indicating the company had donated nearly $2 million to anti-LGBTQ causes. But even before that information was revealed, boycott attempts had been taking place throughout North America, and some Chick-fil-A protests have actually prevented franchises from opening their doors.
The company’s 2017 donations to organizations like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes were up from the previous year, despite Chick-fil-A saying in 2012 that it had “ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.” Caught in a bold-faced lie, advocates, activists and supporters of LGBTQ civil rights were furious with the chain of chicken restaurants, which has only spawned more animus towards the company’s potential new franchises.
Does Chick-fil-A officially have a reputation for selling hateful chicken? If you look at what took place in these North American cities, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
This New Jersey university wouldn’t allow Chick-fil-A on campus
In November 2018, Rider University in New Jersey polled its students about which restaurant they’d like to see open on the school’s campus. But when students came back with Chick-fil-A as their number-one option, the school said ‘no way.’
Seemingly giving credence to the many Chick-fil-A protests that have taken place over the last several years, Rider University removed the fast food company as an option for students, noting Chick-fil-A is “widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community.” The university cared more about remaining faithful to its own “values of inclusion.”
For what it’s worth, Chick-fil-A responded to Rider University’s decision by calling claims the company is anti-gay “misperceptions,” and saying the company has “no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda.” Of course, such a statement belies the fact that the company is one of very few in operation today that still refuses to protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination, which is why it receives a big fat zero from the Human Rights Campaign in its annual buyers guide.
The statement also seems to ignore several facts, like that between the years 2003–2009, Chick-fil-A donated millions to anti-gay causes. In 2012, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said his company opposes same-sex marriage, and he called marriage equality activists “prideful” and “arrogant.”
Less than two weeks ago, Chick-fil-A was banned from this Texas airport
On March 21, the city council of San Antonio, Texas, approved a new contract for its international airport that intentionally excluded Chick-fil-A due to the company’s “anti-LGBTQ behavior.”
“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” says San Antonio Councilman Roberto Treviño. “Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”
The city council’s decision has led Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to actually open an investigation into whether Chick-fil-A’s “religious liberty” was violated, calling the chicken chain “under assault at the San Antonio airport.”
Last week, this New York airport scrapped plans for a new Chick-fil-A franchise
Another airport, this one in Buffalo, New York, has also reneged on plans to open a franchise due to Chick-fil-A protests. Buffalo Niagara International Airport was going to open the area’s second Chick-fil-A franchise, but those plans were scrapped less than 24 hours after they were announced.
In this case the Chick-fil-A protests came from Democratic Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan of Buffalo, who said, “A publicly financed facility like the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is not the appropriate venue for a Chick-fil-A restaurant. We hope in the future the [Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority] will make every effort to contract with businesses that adhere to anti-discriminatory policies, and we’re confident another vendor who better represents the values of the Western New York community will replace Chick-fil-A as a part of this project in the very near future.”
That same day it was also announced that Chick-fil-A would not be opening at the airport in Cheektowaga, New York.
In response to these Chick-fil-A protests in New York State, the brand shot back its standard response: the resulting media coverage “drives an inaccurate narrative” about the restaurant chain, which doesn’t “have a political or social agenda or discriminate against any group.”
In 2018, Toronto residents promised Chick-fil-A protests and boycotts of their own
Chick-fil-A protests aren’t just happening stateside. Hornet reported last summer that many Canadians were furious to hear the chicken chain would be opening three franchises in Toronto in 2019, marking the company’s first international locations.
Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos said the company chose Toronto for its first international location because of the city’s “diversity and vibrant restaurant culture,” which ironically is why many Torontonians want the fast food company to steer clear of their city.
A petition urging Toronto’s mayor not to allow Chick-fil-A to operate in the city made the rounds last year, and the hashtag
#BoycottChickFilA trended on Twitter, with many people telling the company they don’t want Chick-fil-A in their town.
As far as we know, Chick-fil-A’s plans to open in Toronto are still underway.
What do you think — are the cities turning away franchises proof that the public’s Chick-fil-A protests are working?
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