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Chick-fil-A: Cancel Culture Calls for Justice

Anika Madan ’24 Assistant Op/Ed Editor
This past June, corporations like LEGO and UGG celebrated Pride Month by launching themed ad campaigns and donating to pro-LGBTQ organizations.
Some even actively pursued the Equality Act, a proposed bill to ban discrimination by sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Chick-fil-A, on the other hand, has used its extensive platforms and resources to promote the company’s “traditional” beliefs for seven years. However, lately the company has redirected its focus into making positive change, and the cause was none other than ‘cancel culture’.

Chick-fil-A’s billionaire CEO Dan Cathy has a lengthy history as a major donor to anti-LGBTQ organizations, though his efforts were eventually reversed. Cathy’s most recently recorded donation was in 2019, where he gave $5,750 to the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NCF). According to Forbes, this organization is known to donate money to charities that oppose the Equality Act, such as the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom. Chick-fil-A faced backlash from millions of people through boycotting outside restaurants. Two University of Notre Dame undergraduates, Tilly Keeven-Glascock and Joey Jegier, pushed their school to remove Chick-fil-A as a food option from campus following Pride Month this year.

In 2020, Chick-fil-A pledged to donate $5 million to Black-led and Black-benefitting nonprofits, quadrupuling a similar donation in 2019. According to CNN Business, the company promised to only collaborate with organizations that improve education, homelessness, and hunger, including Junior Achievement USA, Covenant House International, and local banks. Although the LGBTQ community does not gain from this proposal, they are not being directly opposed anymore. It is a small step, though one in the right direction. These efforts led Notre Dame students to drop their campaign against Chick-fil-A’s continued on-campus presence. For some communities, such as New York University, this initiative was still not good enough. NYU’s Senior Director of Campus Services states in an email to students that the “long-term space, brand, and capital requirements... do not work.” They let Chick-fil-A go because of conflicting core values.

Cancel culture, in the form of social media comments and protests, reduced anti-LGBTQ influence in our country. Platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook provided Americans a chance to respond to Chick-Fil-A’s announcements and push for social equality. This movement stirred controversy and raised awareness at the University of Notre Dame and New York University, among other communities and institutions. Although the motive for this company’s changing philanthropic initiatives is unclear, at the very least, Chick-fil-A no longer funds anti-LGBTQ organizations.
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