I'm a second-year studying Biological Sciences with a minor in Middle East Studies. I have written with the Technician since the fall of 2018, specifically as a staff columnist for the opinion section.

Zack Jenio

Harvey Dent said it best as “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” And here I am, contrary to perhaps my most notorious article: OPINION: Chick-fil-A needs to be removed from the Atrium, saying that maybe Chick-fil-A can stay in the Atrium. After a yearlong boycott from dining at the outwardly homophobic corporation, the new actions and decisions made by the organization have changed my outlook on the restaurant for the slightly better.

Chick-fil-A recently announced that it would no longer donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations such as Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes because both organizations have held controversial views regarding homosexuality. Instead, Chick-Fil-A has decided to donate to other charities based on their three aims of education, homelessness and hunger through organizations such as Junior Achievement USA and Covenant House International. They even are considering partnering with LGBTQ organizations, granted the partnership is “authentic.”

This action is exactly a step in the right direction to end the discrimination that Chick-fil-A was committing against the LGBTQ community. Not to mention, when the company terminates its donations to those companies in 2020, their philosophy on inclusion will finally better align with the statement of diversity from the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity, where emphasis is placed on creating an “inclusive, accessible and diverse” experience for all students in relation to the mission of NC State. From this, it’s phenomenal to see that the corporation has been able to differentiate between their religious conservatism and political conservatism.

However, the optimism should be met with some slight caution and reluctance as Chick-fil-A “lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents," according to Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response. Although, it would be unfair to argue Chick-fil-A is the only corporation that lacks these policies as this is a national issue that LGBTQ Americans face.

As Anderson stated, it’s also important to recognize that whether Chick-fil-A has meant it or not, it has become a symbol for using religious freedom as a scapegoat to discriminate certain marginalized groups that go against religion, i.e. the LGBTQ community. This is especially present after the signing of Texas’s ‘Save Chick-fil-A’ bill which provides protections to organizations from “adverse action” based on their memberships or donations. Even though Chick-fil-A denied in a statement that it was involved with the legislation, the name Chick-fil-A has stood for institutionalized homophobia for many years.

I like to think that my original Technician article contributed — at least a little bit — to Chick-fil-A changing their ways and stopping donations to anti-LGBTQ charities, but I recognize it was a larger network of activists and social pressure working for change. This is a great step in the right direction, but there’s more that needs to be done on a national level to protect the LGBTQ community. Yet, the immediate result means not only can Chick-fil-A stay on campus but it also means that January 1st I’ll buy my first chicken sandwich in over a year.