Two teens from Lane Tech High SchoolKendall Anderson and Peder Sevighave accused Big Boy Gyros, 3541 N. Western Ave., of anti-LGBT discrimination stemming from an alleged incident involving a hug between the couple at the restaurant after school on May 13.
"The person I believed to be the owner of the restaurant yelled 'no hugging' at us and we immediately took it as a joke, so I responded 'ok my bad sorry' and he said that he cannot have two boys hugging in the restaurant, but if it was a guy and a girl it would be okay," said Anderson, who was dating Sevig at the time of the alleged discrimination. "I was in such a state of shock that I could not let any words escape my mouth. We decided to leave and as we did, he told us to 'get out' because he 'did not want our kind in [there] anyways'."
After Lane Tech administrators heard about the alleged incident they sent out a letter of support to every student, parent, guardian and faculty and staff member.
The letter stated, "Earlier today we were informed of an incident involving some of our students at Big Boy Gyros. An innocent display of affection was shared by two young students which prompted a restaurant staff member to shout homophobic phrases at our students. When our students proceeded to leave, he made it a point to share that 'they' ( LGBT+ ) were not welcomed. As a school, we are disheartened because our students were treated with disrespect and made to feel unwelcome. As a community, we stand strong and we want to make it clear that Lane Tech does not stand for discrimination of any kind. We will not tolerate hatred and will not support an organization that promotes hatred of any kind. We support any students, staff and community members that choose to not support Big Boy Gyros."
Windy City Times has contacted the school administration for comment, but they did not respond as of this publication's deadline.
Anderson and his friend Jolie Mahr ( who was with them at the time ) posted about the alleged incident on their social media accounts to, they explained, raise awareness about what they said happened and call for a boycott.
"After the incident, I knew I had to say something," said Mahr. "If I had chosen to stay silent, I feel like I would have been doing a disservice to not only Kendall and Peder, but to the rest of my fellow members of the LGBT+ community. Casual homophobia is so common and accepted in our society that it is easy to gloss over incidents like these and pretend they are not as real or as hurtful as they truly are. I think it is important that we as queer people find the courage to tell our stories and show the word that the fight for equality and acceptance is not over and there is so much more that can be done.
"So far, Big Boy's has made absolutely no apology of any kind, nor have they even admitted to the incident happening. I think it is important that we continue to boycott this establishment and places whose owners share similar mindsets, because it is one of the easiest ways the good people of this world can show that homophobia and bigotry are not tolerated in this society."
"I am just overwhelmed and kind of surprised by how much this blew up in the media," said Sevig.
"After it happened, we were all in a lot of shock," said Lyla Stern ( who was also with Anderson, Sevig and Mahr that day ). "I have never experienced something like this before and I did not know how to react. The word spread really fast around Lane after Jolie made the post. Unfortunately, she got a lot of hate and people thought we were making it up to get attention. The whole situation really brought out a lot of people's true colors, but the amount of positive reactions to the post is really heartwarming because it shows that Lane Tech really does care."
Anderson, Sevig, Mahr and Stern told Windy City Times they have received total support from their parents on this matter.
When Windy City Times contacted Big Boy Gyros via phone and queried them about the alleged incident involving the Lane Tech students, the person on the line said "no comment" and immediately after that said "that's not true" and hung up.
The teens have not officially filed a complaint, but are contemplating doing so.