WEST LINN, OR (KPTV) - Students at West Linn High School walked out of class Friday in protest of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) bullying they said is happening at the school.
They said they're also frustrated because the booster club selected a Chik-fil-A food truck for football games, a company that's supported groups that activists call anti-LGBTQ.
"This is an issue that matters because it is our safety, it is our lives, it is our education it is also our future," WLHS Gender & Sexuality Alliance Co-President, Susie Walters said.
West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod, community members and parents cheered them on from across the street.
"I'm out here to support brave kids who have taken it upon themselves to pretty much educate each other and the school district about maybe their different genders and their different sexuality," parent, Olive Guajardo said.
Students and parents said they've seen a rise in bullying in the last several weeks, including incidents on social media and say one student's car was even vandalized as well.
They said following those incidents, they're not happy about the Chik-fil-A food truck coming to football games.
"We believe that it's not appropriate for first of all the truck to be here in the first place because of the homophobic and transphobic symbols they represent and fund but also because it didn't really go through the checks and balances of district," Walters said.
District Communications Director Andrew Kilstrom recognized that issue in an interview outside the school.
"What we learned this year is that we don't really have a defined process in selecting those food vendors," Kilstrom said. "Thankfully our students brought that to our attention and it's something we're actively looking into and we'll definitely look to implement in the future."
Kilstrom said the district is aware of some social media conversations.
He said it takes students' safety and bullying very seriously and will actively investigate those types of situations.
FOX 12 also noticed a couple dozen students who formed an opposing group, but they were kept away from FOX 12's cameras.
Chik-fil-A provided this statement in response to student and parent concerns:
Statement from Brian Davis, Franchise Operator, Chick-fil-A Clackamas Promenade:
Our restaurant strives to have a deep and meaningful connection with our local community, and we are disappointed to hear that having our food truck at West Linn High School football games was upsetting to some students. Our sole focus as a restaurant company is on providing great food with warm hospitality to everyone. We do not have a political or social agenda, and we hope the students will give us a chance and experience for themselves that Chick-fil-A embraces all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.
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