Chick-fil-A is opening up a restaurant in Kitchener sometime in early 2021, but along with the chicken comes a heaping helping of controversy.
The fast food restaurant chain has always struggled with shedding its image of being anti-LGBTQ. The head of its company, Dan Cathy is infamously known for his opposition to same-sex marriage and company donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations, some of which supported conversion therapy.
"It's psychologically torturing children into straightness," said local LGBTQ activist and President of Spectrum Cait Glasson.
She says there will likely be protests from the LGBTQ community and its allies once the restaurant opens. Similar protests also broke out in Toronto when Chick-fil-A opened up locations there last year.
She says many people might not know where their money is actually going when they eat out at a Chick-fil-A. Part of her hopes that the Canadian operations branch of the fast food chain is somehow separate from its American operations, but she's not too sure of it.
"I know that the parent company in the U.S. has said that they're not giving to those companies and organizations anymore, but I know there's a great deal of scepticism about that claim as well," she said.
"There are also rumours — sort of the queer activist community, saying, 'well, maybe they have; maybe they haven't stopped,' you know? That they may have just shifted the way that they give money, so that it isn't quite as obvious."
Cathy has tried to separate the company from his beliefs. Last year, the company did put out a release that said it was changing how it doles out its donations, focusing on three key areas: education, homelessness and hunger.
However, it did not state specifically that the company would no longer donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations. Even GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) urged caution around this change.
“If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families" @AndersonDrew https://t.co/0OXfScv1z6— GLAAD (@glaad) November 18, 2019
Glasson says if Chick-fil-A wanted to change people's perceptions they could start by extending an olive branch, by donating to an LGBTQ organization.
"They could donate into organizations fighting against conversion therapy. Those organizations need help fighting this practice in Canada just as much as we do in the states."
570 NEWS reached out to the Canadian branch of Chick-fil-A for comment, and they emailed the following information:
- The Chick-fil-A Foundation is Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving arm.
- In the fall of 2019, the Chick-fil-A Foundation introduced a more focused giving approach for 2020 to provide additional clarity and impact with the causes it supports. Staying true to its mission of nourishing the potential in every child, the Chick-fil-A Foundation now focuses its giving to address three critical needs facing children: education, homelessness and hunger.
- I encourage you to review our full announcement here: https://thechickenwire.
chick-fil-a.com/News/Chick- fil-A-Foundation-Announces- 2020-Priorities
- You will see in the link above that our three organizations for 2020 were Junior Achievement, Covenant House and local food banks.
- Each Chick-fil-A restaurant is independently owned and operated and local owners give back to their communities as they see fit. For example, Wilson Yang, Operator of Chick-fil-A Yonge & Bloor, donates weekly meals to local organizations such as Yonge Street Mission and Austin Harrison, Operator of Chick-fil-A Yorkdale Mall has given hundreds of meals to local hospitals such as Baycrest throughout the pandemic.
- Additionally, over 3,000 meals have been served to Torontonians in need through the Chick-fil-A’s Shared Table program – a program to help Chick-fil-A Operators fight hunger in their local communities by donating surplus food to local soup kitchens, shelters and nonprofits to feed those in need.
- Chick-fil-A does not have a political or social agenda and more than 200,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand.