VENTURA, Calif. — At least two Christian legal organizations have sent a letter to a California principal after she banned her school’s booster club from selling Chick-fil-A sandwiches for its football fundraiser due to the company’s stance on the institution of marriage.
As previously reported, Val Wyatt, principal of Ventura High School, recently told the Ventura County Star that she wanted to refrain from using outside vendors, but also cited her concerns about Chick-fil-A’s opposition to same-sex “marriage.”
“With their political stance on gay rights and because the students of Ventura High School and their parents would be at the event, I didn’t want them on,” she stated.
Trudy Tuttle Ariaga, superintendent of the Ventura Unified School District, agreed with Wyatt.
“We value inclusivity and diversity on our campus, and all our events and activities are going to adhere to our mission,” she said.
But local Chick-fil-A owner Robert Shaffer, who had offered to donate 200 meals for the fundraiser, which sought to raise $1600 for the school’s football team, told reporters that the company doesn’t have a position on the matter.
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t have a stance on gay marriage,” Shaffer told the Star. “We treat everyone who walks through our doors, regardless of their religion or sexual orientation, with honor, dignity and respect.”
Wyatt and Ariaga were referring to statements made by company president Dan Cathy in recent years surrounding the issue of homosexuality. In 2012, Cathy told Baptist Press that he is “very much supporting of the family—the Biblical definition of the family unit.”
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives,” he said. “We give God thanks for that.”
According to the Washington Post, Cathy had also stated on a radio broadcast that he believed that the promotion of homosexual “marriage” was evoking the wrath of God upon America.
Following initial uproar about the matter in 2012, including assertions that the company donates to organizations that oppose same-sex “marriage,” the company issued a statement outlining that it had never sought to donate to groups that speak against homosexuality, and that “[g]oing forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
In a document entitled “Who We Are,” the company also noted that “[t]here are many diverse viewpoints and opinions among those associated with Chick-fil-A,” and that “[i]f someone in Chick-fil-A offers a personal viewpoint, they do not presume to speak for everyone.”
This week, two Christian legal organizations announced that they had sent a letter to principal Wyatt, asserting that her ban on the sale of Chick-fil-A sandwiches was discriminatory and unlawful.
“The First Amendment clearly protects Chick-fil-A from retaliation based upon its protected religious speech,” wrote the Scottsdale, Arizona-based group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). “Accordingly, school districts cannot deny Chick-fil-A the same opportunities to support the school through donations or give-a-ways—or even to sell its products at school events—as are given to other local businesses.”
ADF is asking that Wyatt reverse her decision and allow Chick-fil-A to provide donated food in the future.
The Sacramento, California-based Pacific Justice Institute also sent a letter, citing that the state Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits the school from discriminating against the fast food restaurant.
“Taxpayer funded public schools have no business going on a witch hunt against benevolent businesses simply because one of its managers was quoted as supporting natural marriage,” said President Brad Dacus. “Overt actions by government to isolate and punish business owners who express their moral beliefs is an outrageous violation of public trust.”