The Decatur High Bulldog Boosters (DBB) will not sell products at concession stands during athletic events, but club leaders say it's not because the fast-food chain donates money to groups that oppose gay marriage.
Club leader Bill Ainslie said the booster club, which raises money for and school athletic programs, had talked about finding other vendors for several years.
This year the DBB sought and received bids that beat Chick-fil-A's, he said. Dairy Queen sandwiches were sold Aug. 18 at a scrimmage football game at Bulldog Stadium.
When asked about the timing of the club's decision while Chick-fil-A's president is under fire for opposing gay marriage, Ainslie said, "People were aware [of the gay marriage issue] and everybody views it in a different light. That was not part of the decision the board made."
Decatur's Chick-fil-A has long been involved in community and school activities such as spirit nights.
The booster club has sold Chick-fil-A at school concession stands for years. The restaurant is located across the street from Decatur High and is a popular after-school hangout for students.
But because Decatur has such a high concentration of same-sex couples, the local Chick-fil-A was put in the spotlight when criticism of Chick-fil-A's gay marriage stance mounted.
On Aug. 3, a highly publicized there to protest the company's position on gay marriage.
Patch asked Decatur Chick-fil-A owners John and Cristina Crays to comment, but they said in an email they're not talking to the press about this.
What's your opinion? Should Chick-fil-A be sold at school events in Decatur?
Patch also telephoned and emailed the Chick-fil-A corporate communications office but didn't receive a response.
Booster club chairman Terry Conway also said the change was a business decision. He said in an email to Patch,
As we do every year, we review our "business" and look for opportunities for improvements. Keeping our customer in mind, we aim to keep our prices as low as we can and still be able to make money for our sports programs. As part of our continuing improvement efforts, the DBB is exploring ways to support additional City of Decatur businesses, as these businesses have supported our efforts throughout the years.
Ainslie said the DBB could decide to put Chick-fil-A back on the concession stand menu. "It's entirely concievable that in time -- maybe after this season -- we'll go back to Chick-fil-A," he said.
Patch asked Heather K. Borowski, director of Instructional Media and Communications for the City Schools of Decatur, if any CSD schools stopped using Chick-fil-A for spirit night or other events. Here's her response.
We'd like for our community to know that City Schools of Decatur has a strong non-discrimination policy and a long history of inclusiveness of all children and families. While we support the rights of parents and teachers to voice their opinions, it is not within the purview of the school system to make political statements using school system resources. Policy GAHB prohibits staff from engaging in political activities during the time spent in their commission of their school system duties. CSD staff who act as representatives of CSD to any other organization must refrain, in that capacity, from making statements or engaging in activities that give the appearance of endorsement of a position by the school system.
Parents should be guided by their individual consciences and beliefs. Teachers and staff have the right to their opinions and express them in the spirit of free speech, on their own time.
Some of our schools have several spirit nights scheduled throughout the semester with different City of Decatur businesses. Parents are welcome to pick and choose where they eat and spend their money. Some parent groups are looking at local businesses that can offer the schools larger profits; other parent groups want to give multiple local businesses the opportunity to sponsor school and athletic events.
Here are some previous Patch stories about Chick-fil-A.