Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

VIEWPOINT: Choose Morals Over Chick-fil-A


Lately, all I’ve wanted is a milkshake. 

I’ve voiced this desire to quite a few people, and each time I get the same response: “You know, Chick-fil-A has milkshakes.” And each time, I awkwardly reply: “I know … but I don’t eat at Chick-fil-A.” 

I don’t know exactly why I’m so sheepish about my stance, but perhaps it’s because I know that my refusal to dine at Chick-fil-A is the kind of “overly sensitive liberal behavior” that many conservatives gripe about. And the most common sentiment I hear in return is, “It’s just chicken, what’s the big deal?”

But to me, eating at Chick-fil-A is a big deal. 

It is well-known that the fast food industry has a dark side, and Chick-fil-A is particularly problematic. 

Between 1988 and 2007, Chick-fil-A franchises were sued over a dozen times for employment discrimination. Beyond company culture issues, Chick-fil-A’s values are a major point of concern to me. In 2010, it came to light that Chick-fil-A donated over two million dollars to anti-LGBTQ+ groups, including the American Family Association (AFA), the Family Research Council (FRC), Exodus International and the Marriage & Family Foundation. 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, both the AFA and FRC have been classified as hate groups known for espousing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. And these groups are not quiet about these stances: The AFA states a central goal of theirs to be “combating the homosexual agenda,” which they primarily aim to achieve by advocating against legal protections preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In 2012, Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy doubled-down on their decision to donate by publicly denying the validity of the LGBTQ+ community. This sparked intense backlash — including an in-restaraunt kiss-in — which, in turn, sparked counter-backlash from the conservative Chick-fil-A fanbase. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee even declared a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” to combat the ongoing boycotts and “stand for Godly values.” This, unfortunately, succeeded in boosting sales.

In 2020, amidst immense pressure and a slew of bad press, Chick-fil-A announced that they would be discontinuing their donations to homophobic organizations, and instead would be directing that money toward charities that support education and ending food insecurity. 

However, when financial reports were later released, this was found to be partially untrue. Although Chick-fil-A has stopped donating to the aforementioned organizations, they’ve instead decided to fund the National Christian Charitable Foundation. This group opposes the Equality Act, which would revise current civil rights laws to explicitly protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in all spheres. 

I get that having a fast food company with Christian values at Georgetown University is on-brand for a Catholic school. But as an institution that is grounded in inclusivity, integrity and equality, our community cannot in good faith support a company that discourages these values. 

My decision to not eat at Chick-fil-A has nothing to do with them being a private company promoting Christian ideals. In fact, I think it’s great that Chick-fil-A offered a fish sandwich during Lent in 2016 for those who were temporarily giving up meat. However, hiding behind the pretense of “religious and moral values” is no excuse for perpetuating actual harm.

I want to acknowledge that purchasing fast food can be necessary under certain economic circumstances, and it is a privilege to consistently opt for the most ethical food source. That being said, there are still ways to minimize harm.

Chick-fil-A is not the cheapest fast food, and there are other comparable options (both in terms of price and quality) on- and off-campus — from All About Burger and Good Stuff Eatery to Falafel Inc. and Epicurean & Company.

I recognize that I may come off as a Grinch. And I get it: It can be tiring to feel like you’re “not allowed” to support any business anymore because of their problematic behaviors. It’s enough to make many people throw up their hands and say, “You know what, I’m just going to buy whatever I want because it doesn’t really matter.” 

But it does matter. Chick-fil-A’s policies cannot be ignored simply because “the food itself isn’t homophobic.” At this moment, when you purchase from Chick-fil-A, your money is supporting homophobia. Furthermore, continuing to eat at Chick-fil-A because you don’t think it’ll make a difference is comparable to the mentality of not voting because a singular vote “doesn’t matter.” 

Social movements require intentional, concerted efforts from the masses. Through collective action, it is possible for businesses to change. 

Stepping outside of the food industry, public backlash regarding Uber’s history of sexual misconduct claims and workplace culture issues forced a leadership change and a shift to being a more socially responsible company. Changes that the company implemented included making diversity statistics transparent and cracking down on inappropriate and offensive workplace behaviors. It is my hope that Chick-fil-A can make similar changes.

Next time you’re craving a chicken sandwich or a milkshake, take the extra time to not go to Chick-fil-A. There are plenty of other ethical, delicious and still affordable options in the Georgetown area.

It’s time to put your money where your mouth is, literally.

Claiborne Martell is a first-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences.

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    tg vathgertinJan 14, 2024 at 9:17 am

    Well said! I also refuse to eat there or support business with harmful practices. Sure, it is awkward sometimes however, staying true to my convictions and being intentional in my purchases leaves a better taste in my mouth than a chicken sandwich with a side of homophobia.