23 Aug 2014
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Petition Seeks Chick-fil-A’s Removal from Paulding Schools

The petition’s aim is to have the school district stop utilizing the restaurant chain for fundraising efforts.

Petition Seeks Chick-fil-A’s Removal from Paulding Schools

A national restaurant chain’s support of a nonprofit labeled by some as a hate group has sparked a petition aimed at having the Paulding County School System cease its ties to the chain.

A petition on change.org calls for the school district to stop using Chick-fil-A as a fundraising partner. It was started by a user named Reagan Stewart, identified as a resident of Douglasville.

“It deeply saddens me to see that the school my daughter attends is still selling their product each and every Thursday morning,” Stewart writes in the petition. “I'm well aware of the views that the president of Chick-fil-A Dan Cathy has towards the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community. I have no issue with that. This is a free country and his opinions are free for him to express.

“My issue is that [Cathy’s] company is actively donating millions of dollars to certified hate groups like The Family Research Council (FRC) that are actively seeking to promote discrimination towards and lobbying for legislation against the LGBT community. … Although the school is not actually donating money to known hate groups. The school is helping to do just that.”

“Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. … Our intent is not to support political or social agendas,” the restaurant chain said in a statement in September. “As we have stated, the Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect—regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

Chick-fil-A has given to the Family Research Council in the past, the Huffington Post reports.

According to its website, the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council advances “faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.” It is a nonprofit “whose vision is a culture in which human life is valued, families flourish and religious liberty thrives,” it adds.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010 labeled the Family Research Council as a hate group, writing that the organization had been a “a font of anti-gay propaganda throughout its history.” One example, the SPLC wrote, was that two of the FRC’s senior research fellows pushed false accusations linking gay men to pedophilia.

“I'm asking for the immediate removal of all connections to this company until the company can remove the donations to these know [sic] certified hate groups,” Stewart wrote. “I have no issue with the opinion's [sic] of these people I just have very strong feeling of our school system indirectly financially supporting them.”

Stewart’s online petition as of early Friday had 188 supporters, but not all signatures have been from Paulding. Some of those who have signed onto the digital document have identified themselves as being from Rome, Marietta, Sandy Springs and Atlanta.

Should the Paulding County School System sever its ties to Chick-fil-A? Tell us in the comments.

Paulding Schools Associate Superintendent Brian Otott said he had received an email from Stewart containing the petition. He said Chick-fil-A is utilized by many schools and school clubs across the district.

“Probably the majority of our schools in one way or another, fundraise through Chick-fil-A. A lot of them do morning biscuit sales once a week,” Otott said, adding that in some instances, the school may put on the sale and put the proceeds toward student achievement efforts, while in other instances, school clubs hold the sales for their fundraising purposes.

“Fundraisers are approved by the [school] board. They have to have a specific purpose tied into either supporting students, clubs or the school,” Otott added. “We do not basically support any social or political agendas through our fundraising, and as I said in [an email response to Stewart], we completely understand those who may not participate in a fundraiser because of that.”

Otott said that before a fundraising request is approved it is sent to the district’s coordinator of local school administration for review. If approved, fundraisers are then submitted to the board of education as a point of information for its review.

“Generally, a fundraiser is a local school decision. We don’t dictate who they can and cannot work with for fundraisers,” Otott said. “It comes for approval, yes, but there are many different groups—we don’t micromanage their fundraiser process. We expect them to make choices that are in the best interest of the school and we don’t say, ‘This is a list of people you can use, and this is a list of people you can’t use.’ We’re not going to do that.”

On Aug. 1 of this year, supporters of the national chain flocked into restaurant locations across the country in observance of “ Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” a campaign spearheaded by, among others, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Nearly 675,000 people reported going to a restaurant on the campaign’s Facebook page. Paulding residents were likely among them, as YouTube user LeesRebelDad uploaded video shot that day inside the restaurant’s Hiram location; the video showed dozens of customers waiting to order or sitting at tables eating (the video is attached to this article).

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