Allowing Chick-fil-A to come to the University of North Dakota Memorial Union sends a direct message that the campus is unsupportive of LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff. With such a notorious and public association between the franchise and anti-LGBTQ hate, it is not possible for UND to allow CFA on campus without also indicating that this type of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is acceptable.

In the past, CFA has financially supported designated hate groups that use the widely unsupported and harmful practice of conversion “therapy.” After publicly stating they would stop these anti-LGBTQ donations the owner himself, Dan Cathy, continues to donate millions of dollars to organizations that lobby against civil rights for LGBTQ+ folks, including organizations lobbying against equitable civil rights protections and in support of discrimination against trans youth.

LGBTQ+ people are more likely than their straight and cisgender counterparts to experience psychological distress, depression, substance abuse, suicidality and self-harm. They can also have increased physical health concerns. The experience of discrimination – including environmental indicators of discrimination – contributes significantly to these health disparities.

For queer college students, the experience of the campus environment as (un)affirming and (un)welcoming impacts academic success, too. Students who feel more welcome on campus and who perceive the institution to take supportive actions have higher rates of academic success.

The UND administration permitting CFA to prominently sit in the UND Memorial Union is a prime example of the type of unsupportive institutional actions that cause harm to LGBTQ+ students. It creates a constant reminder for LGBTQ folks on campus that they are not welcome here. Giving physical space to this franchise is an active choice to endorse anti-LGBTQ+ values. The university needs to take responsibility for this choice.

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UND needs to be reminded that the businesses they partner with are a reflection of their values, and right now, bringing in Chick-fil-A conveys loudly that LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff are not valued. The campus needs to break the contract with CFA. I urge readers to voice their opposition to Chick-fil-A being added to the Memorial Union.

Keri Frantell, Grand Forks