Nestle, Mars and two other major food companies said in a USA Today opinion piece this week that they oppose state-level bills that prohibit biological boys from playing on girls' teams and will speak out against similar "draconian" legislation that impacts children.
Representatives of Nestle, Mars, Unilever and Danone North America co-wrote the column, which criticizes not only bills related to sports but two other bills that have been closely watched by the Christian community: a Kentucky bill that would protect the conscience rights of religious medical personnel, and a new Arkansas law that bans gender reassignment surgery and hormones on children.
"As four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States, we view the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures, including those that target transgender people and particularly children, with increasing alarm," the column says.
Nestle makes products such as Cheerios and KitKat, while Mars makes Snickers, M&Ms and other popular candies. Danone is perhaps best known for its yogurt products, while Unilever makes Lipton, Dove and Vaseline.
"In Kentucky … proposed legislation would allow health care providers to turn away LGBTQ+ and other patients, and bar trans youth from K-12 public school and university sports. Similarly, in Texas, legislators have proposed bills that would ban transgender girls from youth sports," the column says.
Supporters of such sports bills say the legislation would prevent a replay of what happened in Connecticut, where two biological boys who identify as girls won a total of 15 state track titles.
The four company officials, though, say the bills are "discriminatory," "draconian," and "threaten hard-won progress to bring greater awareness, support and equality to transgender Americans."
"We applaud Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's decision this week to veto legislation that would have banned gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth," the column says. "Unfortunately, the Arkansas legislature overrode the governor's veto Tuesday."
The companies pledge to "continue using our influence to advocate for policies that establish full equality at the federal and state levels, including swift Senate passage of the Equality Act."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, called the companies "tone deaf", considering "the backlash against Coke, Delta, Major League Baseball, and Patagonia" for their outspoken opposition to the new Georgia voting law.
Perkins labeled it the "woke wars."
A Daily Wire survey of 1,026 Americans released this week found that 70 percent agree with the statement, "Corporations and sports teams should generally stay out of politics."
"The American people," Perkins said this week, "have made it quite clear that they're fed up with corporations picking sides in politics."
Photo courtesy: Inma Santiago/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.