Years of backlash has not fazed Chick-fil-A as it continues to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.
In an interview with Business Insider, Rodney Bullard, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Chick-fil-A and the executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, the company’s charitable branch, dismissed concerns that the company was supporting queerphobic organizations in its charitable giving.
“The calling for us is to ensure that we are relevant and impactful in the community, and that we're helping children and that we're helping them to be everything that they can be,” Bullard said. “For us, that's a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that's being waged.
“This is really about an authentic problem that is on the ground, that is present and ever present in the lives of many children who can't help themselves,” he added.
Bullard says that Chick-fil-A’s priority is serving low-income and underprivileged youth, despite the fact that queer kids are often disproportionately harmed by related issues such as homelessness, poor education, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, limited access to proper healthcare, and workplace discrimination.
Chick-fil-A has ceased donations to political groups such as the vocally anti-LGBTQ+ Family Research Council over the last several years, but its track record remains questionable. In 2017, Chick-fil-A donated $1.8 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Georgia, and the Salvation Army — all groups with a history of discrimination against the queer community. (The company has since stopped donating to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, saying that it was unaware of the organization’s strict same-sex marriage policy.) The company is also under scrutiny for failing to include employee protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, per ThinkProgress, and has also regularly scored a zero in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual buyers’ guide.
Chick-fil-A has been at the center of controversy since 2012, when the company’s president, Dan Cathy, said he believes in the “biblical definition of the family unit,” referring to the LGBTQ+ community as “prideful” and “arrogant” for having the “audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.” Cathy’s divisive rhetoric sparked an ongoing debate over the politics of capitalist consumption that has even spilled over into local policymaking — in just the last several months, two U.S. airports have banned Chick-fil-A from opening locations on their premises after facing public pressure regarding the company’s anti-LGBTQ+ views.