by Brandon Voss
Dozens of LGBTQ students and their allies at an Oregon high school staged a walkout last week, KATU reports.
The students walked out of West Linn High School to protest the presence of a Chick-fil-A food truck at football games, due to the fried chicken chain’s continued donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations. About 25 parents and other family members stood across the street during the demonstration.
West Linn High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance organized the walkout to support LGBTQ students, who have reportedly been increasingly harassed at athletic events and in classrooms.
Another group of students who walked out wore “Make America Great Again” hats and waved Chick-fil-A bags, mocking the LGBTQ students and their supporters.
West Linn school administrators said the Chick-fil-A food truck, one of several vendors selected by the booster club, will stay at football games for the rest of the season. In the future, however, they plan to employ a better vetting process for company contracts.
“The West Linn-Wilsonville School District takes all matters of school safety seriously, and diligently investigates and addresses all potential safety concerns. That includes bullying or cyberbullying,” said Andrew Kilstrom, the school’s public information officer.
“Hate crimes and harassment. We’re not going to stand for that anymore and we’re going to make sure school is a safe place for everyone and we’re not going to take it anymore,” GSA president Susie Walters told KGW.
“We really did try to make this like a pride event,” added GSA vice president Mara Buchanan-Hovland about the walkout. “We tried to make it a celebration of who we are and saying that we’re going to make this community as amazing as we possibly can, and that we’re going to support LBGTQ students.”
“I have faced, on school property and in our community, from West Linn students, I’ve faced people yelling slurs at me and calling me names,” Walters told Oregon Public Broadcasting. Another student reportedly had their car vandalized with the word “queer” written on their windshield.
Walters, who said there are plans to display inclusive Pride flags and “safe space” signage in classrooms, has also requested that the school district hire a diversity director and instate an LGBTQ history curriculum.
Last month a New Orleans high school principal turned down a free Chick-fil-A lunch “out of respect” for LGBTQ staff members.
Chick-fil-A chairman and CEO Dan Cathy famously spoke out against marriage equality in 2012 and admitted that he backed anti-marriage equality initiatives. According to the Christian-owned company’s tax filings, Chick-fil-A gave $1.8 million in 2017 to three groups with anti-LGBTQ records, contradicting previous claims from execs that they would decrease problematic donations.
Chick-fil-A is set to become the third-largest fast food chain in the U.S., behind only Starbucks and McDonald’s.
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