A university in New Jersey has rejected the possibility of opening a Chick-fil-A on campus grounds due to the company’s perceived anti-LGBTQ stance.
Rider University surveyed students earlier this year to determine what the next restaurant on campus would be, with the chicken franchise coming out on top.
But a new poll recently distributed to students omitted Chick-fil-A from the list of options, something Rider’s president, Gregory G. Dell’Omo, and vice president, Leanna Fenneberg, made clear was due to the company’s anti-LGBTQ history, WIVB reports.
“Although it was included in previous surveys, Chick-fil-A was removed as one of the options based on the company’s record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community,” Dell’Omo and Fenneberg wrote in a letter to students.
They stated that the decision was not taken lightly, but that university officials ultimately “decided to lean in the direction of creating a welcoming environment where differences can be appreciated and where each individual can expect to experience dignity and respect.”
Noting that they “fully acknowledge an organization’s right to hold these beliefs,” Dell’Omo and Fenneberg said that their decision was part of a “complex conversation” occuring nationwide, and that they welcomed feedback on the decision.
“We’ve asked Rider’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion to organize a campus forum so that the voices of students, faculty, staff and others can continue to be heard, and we can all grow from this experience,” they wrote.
Chick-fil-A has repeatedly come under fire for its perceived anti-LGBTQ stance, in part due to CEO Dan Cathy’s strong views on Christianity and homosexuality, including opposing same-sex marriage, and corporate donations to anti-LGBTQ groups.
Cathy caused controversy in 2012 when he publicly stated his opposition to same-sex marriage. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” he affirmed to Baptist Press. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
That was further compounded when it was revealed that, in total, Chick-fil-A donated almost $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2009, including the Marriage & Family Legacy Fund, the National Christian Foundation, the Eagle Forum and the Family Research Council.
In 2016, boycotts were called for when the company announced plans to open its first location in New York City, with Councilmember Danny Dromm calling the company “anti-LGBT” and accusing Chick-fil-A of imparting “a strong anti-LGBT message by forcing their employees and volunteers to adhere to a policy that prohibits same-sex love.”
“It is outrageous that Chick-fil-A is quietly spreading its message of hate by funding these types of organizations,” Dromm said at the time.
But Chick-fil-A refuted any suggestion of anti-LGBTQ animus in a statement responding to Rider University’s decision.
“Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on food, service and hospitality, and our restaurants and licensed locations on college campuses welcome everyone,” a company spokesperson said. “We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda.”