Feeling heat from the left, Disney has condemned the falsely characterized “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida.
Bob Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, capitulated to leftists and media figures who decried the Parental Rights in Education bill, a piece of legislation that would prohibit classroom instruction on “sexual orientation or gender identity” from pre-K through third grade. Critics and media outlets have falsely claimed the bill would ban use of the word “gay” in schools.
On the heels of the Florida state Senate passing the bill, Disney staffers ranging from theme park cast members to TV show writers began calling out their employer for not boldly condemning the law just days after it was reported the entertainment company donated some $200,000 to politicians who sponsored and co-sponsored the parental rights legislation, according to BuzzFeed News.
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Initially, as CBN’s Faithwire reported, Chapek sought to strike a balance after it was revealed Disney had donated to Republican politicians. In his statement, Chapek extended support to the LGBT community while not taking an outwardly political stance on the bill, explaining in an internal memo that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.”
That, however, did not go well with some.
Abigail Disney, the grand-niece of Walt Disney and a longtime critic of the Walt Disney Company, wildly mischaracterized the parental rights legislation as an attempt “to establish an America that would brutalize and eradicate so many of its own citizens — nothing less than annihilation will do.”
She further rebuked Chapek for not vehemently condemning the Florida bill.
“The times for neutrality are long since over,” she wrote in a profane Twitter thread. “[W]hat is Disney for? Is it for pretending what America is about, or it is for defining a vision for a world in which fantasy, love, kindness, decency and loyalty are bedrock values.”
So after days of pressure, Chapek spoke out.
On Wednesday, during a shareholders meeting, the Disney executive said the company’s top brass was “opposed to the bill from the outset” but — rather than speaking out publicly — chose to work “behind the scenes” to address their concerns with lawmakers.
“We were hopeful that our longstanding relationships with those lawmakers could lead to a better outcome. Ultimately, we were unsuccessful,” he said. “I called Gov. DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be unfairly used to target gay, lesbian, nonbinary, and transgender kids and families. The governor heard our concerns, and agreed to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address them.”
And according to one report from CNN, Chapek has committed to signing a statement opposing any similar legislation in states around the country.
“I understand our original approach, no matter how well intended, didn’t quite get the job done,” he said.
Interestingly, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued a statement Wednesday, seemingly contradicting what Chapek told shareholders. The governor said his call Wednesday with the Disney CEO marked the first time his office had heard from anyone from the Walt Disney Company regarding the legislation in question.
DeSantis, for his part, is standing by the bill.
“Governor DeSantis has always been open to hearing from Floridians and having conversations about legislation — as long as those discussions are grounded in facts, not false media narratives,” read the statement from DeSantis’ office. “Anyone who has questions or concerns about the Parental Rights in Education bill is encouraged to read the bill, rather than the distorted coverage in the mainstream media, which regurgitates false partisan talking points.”
“Disney is a family-friendly company that creates wholesome entertainment for kids,” the statement continued. “The same Florida parents who take their families to Disney also support parental rights in education, because they do not want their young children exposed to inappropriate content about sex and gender theory at school.”
DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law soon.
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