Utah Elementary School Parents Join The Ongoing (Still) Chick-Fil-A Battle
DRAPER, UT -- Parents in this suburban Salt Lake City community are expressing concern and anger over a recent decision by Draper Elementary principal Kenna Sorensen to have a local Chick-Fil-A franchise sponsor a school spirit night and provide catering for students celebrating birthdays during the school year.
Sorensen sent word via e-mail to parents and in an announcement in Dewey’s Diary, the newsletter for the school.
Parent Peter Pedersen, father of a first-grader and a fourth-grader at Draper Elementary, told The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper he was not happy with Sorensen's actions.
"I am really surprised and concerned that Draper Elementary would choose to partner with the restaurant Chick-fil-A at a time when that company has become a symbol for the Gay Marriage/Marriage Equality debate going on in our country," Pedersen wrote in an e-mail he sent to Sorensen and also shared with The Salt Lake Tribune.
The Tribune itself notes about Sorensen's controversial decision:
But after a summer in which purchasing a chicken sandwich from the Georgia-based fast-food chain became emblematic of one’s position on gay marriage, some Draper Elementary parents are questioning whether the partnership with Chick-fil-A could be construed as demeaning to children from gay and lesbian families.
In defending her decision, Sorensen said that the partnership with Chick-fil-A would help "recognize and reward" students, first by sponsoring monthly lunches with her for children celebrating birthdays.
According to the Tribune, the principal's young guests will receive a four-piece chicken nugget kid’s meal, a side of fruit, an apple juice and a prize. [Although the paper did note that Waffle fries won’t be a part of the menu because they don’t meet school food guidelines.]
The restaurant will also sponsor quarterly "spirit nights," where 10 percent of all sales made during a two-hour period will be donated to the school.
"I think this is an amazing and generous donation from Chick-fil-A," Sorensen wrote in the newsletter, "and we are only one of five local elementary schools that will receive this partnership benefit."
Pedersen disagreed writing "I know that our school is not a partisan entity and is not involved in this debate in any way (as it should not be) but for many people, this action appears to give approval and endorsement of that particular political position," Pedersen adding, "Additionally, whether intentional or not, I believe for many families with gay children or parents this may be interpreted as a very personal attack on them."
Washington Capitals Hockey Team Launches Team's Support Efforts For ‘You Can Play’ Equality Project
|Capitals Forward Matt Hendricks|
ARLINGTON, VA - The Washington Capitals Hockey Team announced Tuesday that the team, led by Capitals forward Matt Hendricks, will become the latest NHL team franchise to support the 'You Can Play' equality project which endeavors to foster equality, respect and safety for all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation.
Capital's owner Ted Leonsis — who also owns the NBA’s Wizards and WNBA’s Mystics — told The Washington Post Monday;
“I’ve always believed that a sports team holds a mirror up to the community it serves,” Leonsis said. “And just from a service-in-your-community standpoint, we have a very diverse community. So I try to always break things down into: Is it the right thing to do? And then: Is it the right thing for the business? And the answer to this was both. . . . We want hockey to be for everyone.”
A spokesperson for the Caps told LGBTQNation Tuesday that Hendricks deserves the credit for pushing the team to join in. Hendricks recorded a public service announcement, which follows several others that were filmed by other NHL players since the project launched in March.
'You Can Play' was inspired by Brendan Burke, the 21-year-old son of Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke — a mentor and friend of Capitals General Manager George McPhee. Burke, an athlete and student manager at Miami University for the RedHawks men's ice hockey team, made international headlines for coming out in November 2009. Advocating for tolerance and speaking out against homophobia in professional sports, his coming out was widely praised and supported by sports news outlets and fans, generating multiple discussions about homophobia in sports, and in hockey in particular. He was viewed as a pioneer in advocacy against homophobia in hockey, described as "the closest person to the NHL ever to come out publicly and say that he is gay." Burke was killed in a car crash on February 5, 2010.
Brendan’s brother, Patrick, helped found You Can Play in the month after his brother’s death, in part because he felt his brother had spoken out courageously about his own sexuality in an environment that hasn’t traditionally welcomed such talk.
Hendricks, who grew up playing hockey and as an adult has spent his professional life in the NHL, told the Post that "he is personally aware of the parlance of sports, at times inspirational and uplifting, at others sophomoric and crass, at still others offensive and hurtful."
After his wife Kim gave birth to twins — a son, Gunnar, and a daughter, Lennon last November, they decided that they needed to be able to raise their children in a world that saw inclusivity both in and out of sports oriented venues.
“I think words are thrown around that people don’t necessarily understand the meanings of them, or the ramifications — what they could potentially do to someone’s feelings,” Hendricks said. “Looking back to when I was a younger player, before I got into the professional ranks, the slurs and the terminology that’s used in the locker rooms at a younger age isn’t necessarily out there to be malicious, but it definitely could be.”
“It struck a spot in my heart that we want equality throughout all sporting arenas, regardless of whether it be hockey or football or baseball,” Hendricks said. “We think that everyone being equal — regardless, whether it be on the playing field or in the parking lot here, or anywhere — is a real big topic that we talk about in rearing our kids. . . . Parents need to be aware of how to teach their kids the proper way to talk in a locker room.”
You Can Play isn't limited to professional hockey. Patrick Burke, now a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers said that although NHL players and teams still lead the way in participating in the program, Burke said he has met with officials from the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball. “Things are promising there,” he said.
Recently, professional sports played a large role in the debate over equality as Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, lent his support to the same-sex marriage movement, by writing an open letter hammering a Maryland lawmaker who had criticised Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has taken a leading role in the efforts to ensure same-sex marriage rights equality in Maryland.
Burke told the Post that You Can Play is focused not on marriage rights, but on athletes and the culture of sports. That is what Hendricks knows. He said he would not hesitate to raise the issues with his Capitals teammates. It is, he said, not because of personal experience with a gay teammate or opponent.
“I would assume I probably have played with or against someone,” he said. “I’m not sure. But I think it’s important that those players are able to speak freely about it. We’re moving on. We’re evolving as a society. I think it’s an important thing for sports, because sports should be a part of everyone’s lives, regardless of sexual orientation.”