Chick-fil-A to stop funding controversial groups after LGBTQ protests

“Chick-fil-A investors, employees and customers can greet today’s announcement with cautious optimism," an LGBTQ advocacy group said.
A Chick-fil-A in Springfield, Virginia, in 2012.
A Chick-fil-A in Springfield, Virginia, in 2012.Alex Wong / Getty Images file
By Quinn Gawronski

Chick-fil-A announced it will take a different approach to its charitable giving in 2020 following years of protests from LGBTQ groups that have taken issue with the Atlanta-based food chain’s donations to organizations that do not support gay rights.

“Staying true to its mission of nourishing the potential in every child, the Chick-fil-A Foundation will deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger,” the organization announced Monday.

Chick-fil-A has committed $9 million to Junior Achievement USA, which offers educational programs to K-12 students; Covenant House International, a shelter and supportive services organization for homeless youth; and more than 120 local food banks across the country. This more focused approach is a significant shift from the company's previous strategy of donating to an array of organizations, some of which have a history of anti-LGBTQ views.

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Monday's announcement, however, is reportedly not the first time Chick-fil-A has claimed it would cut ties with groups that have anti-gay views or policies. In 2016, the company reportedly told the progressive news site Think Progress that it was winding down contributions to such groups, but a report published earlier this year by the site found Chick-fil-A donated $1.8 million to discriminatory groups in 2017.

“Chick-fil-A investors, employees and customers can greet today’s announcement with cautious optimism, but should remember that similar press statements were previously proven to be empty,” Drew Anderson, the director of campaigns at GLAAD, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, said in a statement.

The controversial funds donated to organizations like the Salvation Army — which has a history of anti-gay views but has since disavowed those beliefs — alongside remarks opposing same-sex marriage that Dan Cathy, now the CEO, made in 2012, caused a swell of bad publicity and boycotts of Chick-fil-A. The backlash against the company became especially poignant as the chain attempted to expand globally and into more liberal parts of the United States.

In October, some LGBTQ protests broke out at the opening of the United Kingdom's first Chick-fil-A. Shortly after, the company announced that the restaurant would close after its six-month lease expired.

“The chain’s ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the U.K. as we are a progressive country that has legalized same sex marriage for some years, and continues to strive toward equality,” Reading Pride, a local LGBTQ advocacy group, said in its statement.

Several U.S. cities have also blocked the chain from opening restaurants in their airports following the release of the ThinkProgress report. San Antonio, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, both rejected the chain for its “legacy of anti-LGBT behavior."

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