By Elliot Davis.
NSU’s decision to reach out to Chick-fil-A and invite them to bring a location on campus is by no means surprising, but it is disappointing. The restaurant’s history of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ organizations is well known. The controversy surrounding it is far from dead and buried.
Though they’ve tried to back off from their anti-marriage equality stance since 2012, the company’s tax-exempt foundation has continued to donate millions of dollars to anti-queer organizations.
And though the company has promised to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect–regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender,” this message is nothing more than empty words. The company has refused to back them up with any kind of non-discrimination policy that includes LGBTQ+ individuals, receiving a score of 0 from the Human Rights Campaign for their lack of LGBTQ+-inclusive policies.
Entering into a business relationship with a company that continues to undermine the goal of queer equality demonstrates where NSU’s priorities lie. It certainly isn’t with the well-being of their queer students and staff members.
The university made no attempt to reach out to us or to hear the concerns of our community when they made the decision as to which restaurant they wanted to bring on campus. Last year saw other universities stand with their marginalized students and reject Chick-fil-A as their retail partner, making NSU’s decision to do the very opposite all the more striking.
Louisiana continues to be a battleground for LGBTQ+ rights. Queer people can be and are fired just for being queer; in only two cities, not including Natchitoches, are we a protected class.
In 2017, the Louisiana Senate voted down legislation that would have extended the already-existing ban on workplace discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Just last year, the Louisiana Supreme Court nullified an executive order that had banned companies contracting with the state from discriminating against queer employees.
In a political climate where our human rights are constantly under attack, NSU’s failure to support us in that battle does not go unnoticed by those of us it affects. The partnership with Chick-fil-A is just another slap in the face.
Elliot Davis is Vice President of PRIDE at NSU.