By now, we’ve all learned that almost anything can be political. As public discourse is integrated into industry and culture, it’s almost unusual for a company to lack a hot political take or sympathetic philanthropic cause.
Plenty of these causes are admirable. Gillete, for example, recently garnered attention for including progressive ideas about masculinity in a major advertising campaign. Did we really need our razors and shaving creams to be sites of political discourse? Who’s to say. Nonetheless, it’d be hard to deny that this campaign had a somewhat positive social impact.
As the discussion surrounding corporate social-impact campaigns becomes more robust, we sometimes forget about the companies advocating for social regression. Though there are many offenders to choose from, few rival the backwardness of Chick-Fil-A.
I thought we figured this out a while ago: Chick-Fil-A has been Cancelled. Remember in 2012 when the Chick-Fil-A CEO said that we’re “inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage”?
Admittedly, it’s tempting to let this hateful message slide on account of the charmingly quaint ‘shaking our fists at God’ bit. However, we shouldn’t forget how the Chick-Fil-A Foundation backed this statement with decades of major donations to Exodus International, one of the world’s largest ‘conversion therapy’ (ex-gay) programs.
In the wake of the 2012 scandal, the company publicly promised to reform its donations to reflect a more tolerant worldview. However, Chick-Fil-A’s 2017 tax returns revealed that no such changes had been made.
Among other contributions, in 2017 the company donated over $1 million to the ‘Fellowship of Christian Athletes,’ which requires all employees to refrain from engaging in ‘homosexual acts,’ and $200,000 to the ‘Paul Anderson Youth Home,’ which teaches young men recovering from substance abuse issues that “same-sex marriage is a rage against Jesus Christ and his values.”
The WinShape Foundation, a non-profit established and operated by Chick-Fil-A’s founding family, has donated millions of dollars to organizations such as Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Family Research Council, Exodus International, and the Marriage & Family Legacy Fund. These organizations range from conversion therapy programs to anti-LGBTQ+ policy and lobbying centers. I’d recommend skimming the articles on the Family Research Council’s issue page — they’re fun.
Knowing all of that, it’d be hard to deny that Chick-Fil-A has a rich and public history of anti-LGBTQ+ activism. Luckily for us, though, their nearest location is in Syracuse, almost an hour and a half away from Cornell. Still, not all are deterred. It’s not usual to see students making the trek to the Chick-Fil-A Syracuse location on any given weekend. Some Cornell student organizations can even be found featuring Chick-Fil-A fundraisers.
Both symbolically and materially, spending your money at Chick-Fil-A is damaging to LGBTQ+ people. It’s particularly damaging to LGBTQ+ people living outside of Cornell’s campus, as the policies, programs, and ideologies espoused by Chick-Fil-A most intensely affect young and vulnerable queer people living in conservative areas.
LGBTQ+ youth who have been significantly rejected by parents or caregivers on account of their sexual orientation or identity are more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide, six times as likely to report high levels of depression, and more three times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and STDs. The organizations supported by Chick-Fil-A directly contribute to the development and reproduction of homophobic beliefs which cause these phenomena. Additionally, “exposure to (conversion therapy) also correlates with lower education attainment and lower socioeconomic status,” and young people who undergo ‘conversion therapy’ display declining mental health, suicidal tendencies, low self-esteem, and dissatisfaction in life.
Whether you like it or not, by spending your money at Chick-Fil-A, you’re voting with your wallet to allow the likes of conversion therapy to continue operations. So please, please please, please, please, stop eating at Chick-Fil-A.
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