Students at West Linn High School in northern Oregon staged dueling walkouts last week, some in protest of a homophobic food vendor and others in support.
The walkouts are a response of the school bringing on a Chick-fil-A food truck for school events, including football games. The company has a long history of funneling millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ+ activists around the world.
A group of West Linn students from the school's Gay-Straight Alliance hoped to call attention to the company's charitable practices, which include funding a pastor who helped Ugandan officials create the country's "kill the gays" law, as well as ongoing homophobic harassment at their own school. According to a KATU2 report, students had been harassed in sports games and classrooms. The protest was supported by about two dozen parents and family members, who stood nearby during the walkout.
As if to prove that homophobia is indeed a problem at the school, another group of students gathered to make fun of the walkout, waving Chick-fil-Aa bags and wearing "Make America Great Again" hats.
School officials, disregarding the ongoing harassment, told local KATU news that they're not aware of any incidents of homophobia. "The West Linn-Wilsonville School District takes all matters of school safety seriously, and diligently investigates and addresses all potential safety concerns," read a boiler-plate statement from public information officer Andrew Kilstrom. He also acknowledged that anti-LGBTQ+ bullying has been a problem in the past at the school.
Officials say that the food truck will remain in place for the rest of the football season, but that they might have a more diligent vetting process in the future. It's unclear what that potential vetting process would involve.
In 2017, the Chick-fil-A donated $1.8 million to various homophobic organizations, according to tax returns. Past Chick-fil-a beneficiaries include an athletics organization that requires "sexual purity" and bars employees from "homosexual acts," a housing organization that teaches residents that homosexuality is immoral, and various ex-gay groups.
It's common for more discerning institutions to ban Chick-fil-A franchises due to the company's homophobia. Just this year, San Antonio and Buffalo rejected the vendor from local airports, and Rider University dropped Chick-fil-A from consideration for on-campus catering. The Staten Island Yankees ended a partnership with the chain, and a mall in the UK allowed a Chick-fil-A briefly this year, but then said that the contract would not be renewed because it was "the right thing to do."
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