Residents appalled by the Town of Lacey’s Children’s Day sponsor raised their concerns at a meeting of the North Thurston Public Schools Board on Tuesday.
Children’s Day was held on October 1 at Hunter Park in Lacey and one of the main sponsors was Chick-fil-A, the popular but controversial fast food chicken restaurant.
The company operates a store in Lacey and has explored a site in Olympia. It is considered controversial because in 2012, company president Dan Cathy spoke out against gay marriage.
Although North Thurston is not involved in selecting sponsors or selecting other partners for the event, the district is a community partner of Children’s Day.
“North Thurston Public Schools has participated in the Town of Lacey Children’s Day for many years as a way to give back to our community,” said district spokeswoman Amy Blondin. “We offer fun and engaging activities for children, as well as information and resources for families. We were able to contact hundreds of families on Saturday.
Still, the association with Chick-fil-A was “beyond pale,” said Lynn Grotsky, co-founder of Pizza Klatch, an organization that got its start in the district that provides a safe destination for young people and those who identify themselves. as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.
She called on the school board to ask questions for the future and “really look at how they (the city) find sponsors.”
Grotsky, a resident of Lacey, said she heard about the event and the sponsorship when she received information about the event in her utility bill. She said she immediately reached out to friends to see if they were as upset as she was.
Dana McCormick of PFLAG-Olympia, an organization “committed to the civil rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people,” also attended Tuesday’s school board meeting.
The LGBTQ community is so tuned into Chick-fil-A controversies that seeing them as a sponsor “makes you feel unwanted,” she said.
Gabi Clayton from Olympia told the story of her youngest son Bill to the school board.
When Bill turned 14, he revealed to his parents that he was bisexual, she said. At the age of 17, he was ‘out and proud’, but in 1995 he suffered ‘gay bashing’ and then killed himself in 1995, ‘despite the love and support of his family and its community,” she said. .
She asked the council to not only think about her son, but all the kids in the district who might be LGBTQ and the impact Chick-fil-A might have on them.
“Please remember not to get involved in anything that supports this kind of hate because you could be saving children’s lives,” she said.
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