Around 100 students walked out of West Linn High School in Oregon last week in protest of the school’s decision to allow a Chick-fil-A food truck to sell chicken sandwiches during one of the school’s football games, among other microaggressions they said were making LGBT students feel “unsafe.”
“West Linn High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance organized the walkout and says the current culture at the school is not safe for LGBTQ+ students. They posted to Instagram saying students are being harassed in sports games and in classrooms,” local news station KATU reported.
The Chick-fil-A food truck was, apparently, the most egregious example of harassment, but a transgender student’s car was also vandalized with the word, “queer.”
“We walked out to show our student pride,” Billie Henderson, the student whose car was targeted, told the local public ration station. “To show that despite everything we’ve been through, we are still proud of who we are, and we won’t back down and we won’t make exceptions for anyone.”
“A group of counterprotesters also walked out of classes wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and waving American flags and Chick-fil-A bags,” the Washington Times reported.
The school’s public information officer, Andrew Kilstrom, could not confirm any specific incidents of harassment but said that there have been issues in the past, and the school continues to work to promote a culture of inclusion.
“The West Linn-Wilsonville School District takes all matters of school safety seriously, and diligently investigates and addresses all potential safety concerns,” he added. “That includes bullying or cyberbullying.”
West Linn High School noted that they did not approve of the walkout, though they do encourage students to speak their minds.
It’s not clear what prompted the Oregon school to invite Chick-fil-A to sell food on campus during sporting events, but the chicken sandwich chain has drawn protests from LGBTQ rights activsts across the country since 2012, when LGBTQ rights groups discovered that Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy is opposed to same-sex marriage and has donated to socially conservative organizations. Activists have staged protests against Chick-fil-A in a number of states, often to no avail. New store openings are typically marked by long lines and extended waits for the famous sandwich.
In some rare cases, activists have been able to prevent new Chick-fil-A locations from opening, typically in airports.
West Linn High School football boosters typically invite a number of vendors to sell food at football games over the course of the season, and the sports program receives a cut of the proceeds, the Washington Times reports. “The school said the Chick-fil-A food truck will remain at the football games throughout the season, but it will reconsider its vetting process moving forward.”
District staff, additionally, are working with the affected students to address their concerns.
The students do appear to have gotten at least temporary results with their walkout. The same local news organization, KATU, reported earlier this week that the Chick-fil-A food truck and and the company’s food cart were conspicuously absent from last friday’s sporting event.