Many in the media are racing to highlight the “anti-LGBT” charities that Chick-fil-A is dropping from its donation list – without also detailing the work that some of them do for the LGBT community.
The Chick-fil-A Foundation recently announced that, beginning in 2020, it would donate to a “smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger.” The decision came after the Atlanta-based food chain has faced years of backlash from LGBT activists for giving to Christian organizations like the Salvation Army.
Unfortunately, the Salvation Army did not make the new list.
“The Foundation has made these changes to create more clarity and to better address three critical needs facing children across the communities we serve,” Chick-fil-A’s release read on November 18.
In an interview with Bisnow, Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos added that “as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are. There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message.”
But regardless of Chick-fil-A’s reasoning behind the dropped donations, the media seemed to know why: These charities are “anti-LGBT.”
“Chick-fil-A says it won’t donate to anti-LGBTQ groups — at least for now,” the Los Angeles Times’ headline read. Likewise, CNN’s headline announced, “Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations.” The Daily Beast wrote about the “Anti-LGBTQ Charities,” while CBS News posted a video on the “anti-LGBTQ+ charities.” The list goes on.
What didn’t make their headlines – and what some of their stories left out – was the Salvation Army’s response.
“We’re saddened to learn that a corporate partner has felt it necessary to divert funding to other hunger, education and homelessness organizations — areas in which The Salvation Army, as the largest social services provider in the world, is already fully committed,” the Salvation Army’s statement, issued that same day, read.
The Salvation Army stressed that the LGBT community is an area of focus for its ministry.
“We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” the statement continued. “In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population.”
The Salvation Army concluded that, “When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor, is at risk.”
In the United States alone, the Salvation Army aids an estimated 25 million Americans per year, according to its website. And they don’t just get help from Chick-fil-A. They boast corporate partnerships with other big names including AT&T, Google, Ford, FedEx, UPS, Walmart, Target, Amazon, Walgreens, and Macy’s.
They’re even partnering with singer Ellie Goulding after she recently expressed concern that the group was anti-LGBT. That changed after she met with and researched the group.
“Our team at national met with Ellie’s team and really talked through and helped her understand our non-discrimination policies — the way that we truly are — have open arms for anyone who’s in need,” Major Jon Rich, one of the Salvation Army’s area commanders, told the Dallas News.
Among other things, Rich and another Salvation Army representative talked about how the Salvation Army designs bathrooms specifially for transgender people and offers health benefits to same-sex couples.
Online, the Salvation Army also lists how it specifically helps the LGBT community. They even have a page of personal testimonials and FAQ pages answering LGBT concerns.
“Because LGBTQ Americans living in poverty often experience unacceptable homophobia and transphobia, many become homeless,” the Salvation Army’s website reads. “A majority of homeless LGBTQ people end up on the streets before they turn 18, and one in four is homeless before turning 16.”
To combat this, the organization provides shelter, job training, food, and help with substance abuse and teenage suicide specifically tailored to the LGBT community. That’s because it recognizes statistics like “LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.”
They also advertise a Las Vegas dorm for transgender people because nearly “one-third of transgender people have been rejected from an emergency shelter” and they are “more vulnerable to assault.”
And yet, the media headlines continue to call the Christian organization “anti-LGBT.”