October 14, 2022 at 4:00:00 PM
Reagon Houpt '25 and Nina McDowell '25
If you participate on any sports team or even in an outdoor education program, you can relate to post-game/excursion dinners on the road. Oftentimes, food options are limited to what is most convenient, usually fast food restaurants such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy’s or gas station runs to Wawa or Sheetz. A fan favorite for a great number of students is Chick-Fil-A, beloved for its chicken sandwiches, nuggets, waffle fries, and lemonade (with extra ice). Although its products are crowd-pleasers, Chick-Fil-A has had its share of controversies and boycotts.
Chick-Fil-A most notably has underlying Christian motives, hence their closure on Sundays. Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-Fil-A, has financially supported the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the National Christian Foundation, and various other religious organizations, which openly stand against LGBTQ+ rights and the Equality Act, a bill that “prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” In 2018 alone, Cathy donated over $1.8 million to groups that resist LGBTQ+ rights. Additionally, Cathy has previously voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s not uncommon to witness homophobia seemingly everywhere. When PGA leaders make the decision to eat at Chick-Fil-A, this can arouse an internal conflict among students who identify as LGBTQ+ or loyal allies. After a long and physically exerting day, one cannot simply choose not to eat at the establishment if it’s the only available option. I question whether I feel unspoken pressure from my peers or embarrassment to admit that because of how I identify, I won’t eat somewhere that is so well-loved.
Additionally, for someone with dietary restrictions, Chick-Fil-A’s menu can be difficult to navigate. Vegetarians are left with slim pickings, and there are even fewer options for vegan lifestyles. Nutrition is crucial for athletic performance; that being said, protein is especially important for recovery. Besides chicken, there are no alternative main protein sources offered at Chick-Fil-A. Waffle fries and a small side salad (sans chicken) are not enough to sustain an active teenage body.
At home, it is easier to avoid corporations that clash with your moral beliefs, but when the only choices are to support the business or go hungry, this makes it difficult for students to feel in control. Choosing to take a PGA group or team to Chick-Fil-A is not only distasteful to the openly LGBTQ+ students, but it also has the potential to make those who are questioning their identities feel uncomfortable and the vegetarians go hungry.