Walt Disney Company pauses all political donations in the state of Florida in response to 'Don't Say Gay Bill'

Mar 11, 2022 in "The Walt Disney Company"

Posted: Friday March 11, 2022 2:42pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

The Walt Disney Company is stepping up its fight against the state of Florida and its "Don't Say Gay" bill.

Today, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that the company is immediately pausing all political donations in the state of Florida.

Disney has come under fierce criticism for its apparent lack of action in fighting the bill, leading to Disney's top executives taking to various platforms multiple times over the past few days in an attempt to clarify Disney's position.

Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro wrote to cast members on March 9, shortly after the annual shareholders meeting, to reiterate his opposition to the legislation.

He wrote:

"Let me reiterate… my leadership team and I believe in creating an inclusive environment and culture where everyone belongs… we are opposed to this legislation… and do not support discrimination of any kind. I know this is a very difficult period for many, particularly for those who feel the company didn’t support members of our Cast strongly enough. I understand. We have been tested in nearly every way imaginable over the past few years… and through it all, we’ve supported each other. And that is exactly what we must continue to do today. Many of you have spoken up… and reached out to me and other leaders… and I hope you will continue to do so.
Your voice is important."

Walt Disney Imagineering's public face, Zach Riddley took to Instagram.

I’ve watched in anger and frustration as the legislation in Florida was passed. As a kid I grew up in a community that lacked awareness and understanding of what being gay is – and that led to fear, to bullying and to sadness. Sadness that you are somehow different, that you are not worthy of love and that you are not worthy of support, friendship or acceptance. Kids coming from a family with two dads or two moms – that’s as much a part of them as the color of their eyes or the color of their skin. I believe we only move forward by learning and by teaching everyone that it is okay to embrace difference, and ensure everyone feels they belong.

There is tremendous richness that comes from a world that reflects all of us – stories, adventures, places real and places fantastic that are created in part by the minds of those who are different. That is a legacy of creativity that has defined generations of fans across the world. That is a legacy we are honored to be a part of.

I am speaking as an individual, but also a leader and a proud, married gay man when I say that I do not support this legislation. I have made many friendships throughout my time at Disney with incredible LGBTQ+ Cast, Imagineers, leaders and allies. We are a strong community and our voices and our experiences matter.

We have come a long way in our journey, listening and learning from one another. And there is so much more to do. We need to keep progress moving forward with greater understanding, acceptance and appreciation. I stand with all of you who share these values and who represent all those who need to be reminded – you matter, you are not alone, you are valued and you are loved for exactly who you truly are.

This afternoon, Bob Chapek has written again to cast members with another apology and promise of action.

To my fellow colleagues, but especially our LGBTQ+ community,

Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company's response to the Florida "Don't Say Gay" bill. Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.

Our employees see the power of this great company as an opportunity to do good. I agree. Yes, we need to use our influence to promote that good by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all.

Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review. But, I know there is so much more work to be done. I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally. You will hear more about our progress in the coming weeks.

I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community. I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on- and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is attacking Disney for what he calls "woke" behavior, and for the company's ties with China.

Making comments at a rally in Boca Raton for his reelection campaign he said,

When you have companies that have made a fortune off being family friendly and catering to families and young kids, they should understand that parents of young kids do not want this injected into their kid’s kindergarten classroom. You have companies, like at Disney, that are going to say and criticize parents' rights, they’re going to criticize the fact that we don’t want transgenderism in kindergarten in first grade classrooms. If that’s the hill they’re going to die on, then how do they possibly explain lining their pockets with their relationship from the Communist Party of China? Because that’s what they do, and they make a fortune, and they don’t say a word about the really brutal practices that you see over there at the hands of the CCP. And so in Florida, our policies got to be based on the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musing of woke corporations.

The HB 1557 bill, prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

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wdwmagicApr 01, 2022

I'm closing this thread pending any further news or developments.

ImperfectPixieApr 01, 2022

That book was in the libraries of HIGH SCHOOLS and was NOT part of the curriculum. It is also not marketed towards young adults. Let's please at least be clear in our facts before we start further discussion. https://www.wfae.org/race-equity/2021-11-18/why-is-the-book-gender-queer-being-removed-from-public-school-libraries-and-is-it-obscene https://apnews.com/article/entertainment-education-gender-identity-virginia-a3d4b656bb58d0472af2a1a69ab62708 Personally, because the book is a graphic novel and I've read about some of the pictures in it, I would prefer to limit it to public libraries that aren't inside public k-12 schools, and college campuses. I wouldn't label it as obscenity, because I'm sure (as stated in the AP article) that the book has it's merits, I just think not all high school students are old enough or mature enough to handle the material.

CaptainAmericaApr 01, 2022

"Any gay adult man who felt a kinship with that little boy dressed as Tinker Bell should be made aware of this: It is a very different world from the time you grew up—even from the world ten years ago. In today’s culture, that little boy would not be told it is OK to be gay; he would be led to believe he is ‘really a girl’. Across the nation and the world, gender non-conforming boys and girls are being pushed into believing they are trans. THIS is what is at the core of teaching ‘gender identity’, and it is a form of CONVERSION, just as contemptible as those religious groups that attempt to ‘pray the gay away’."

ImperfectPixieApr 01, 2022

You do realize that young children don't make a connection between pregnancy and sex until they're taught to, correct? (And such education is prohibited outside of approved sex-ed classes, which parents are free to opt their children out of.) They don't see a pregnant person and automatically know how the baby got into their belly. The LGBTQ+ community has just as much right to expect representation in media as everyone else. Ostracization? You mean feeling threatened because they aren't the only voices being heard anymore? The LGBTQ+ community has spent years being shunned, ignored, abused, and worse...is it any surprise that when they finally get someone to listen, they're very loud?

CommunicoraApr 01, 2022

The moderator and site owner have asked us to focus on Disney's reaction to the bill rather than personal political beliefs. If you want the thread to stay open, please consider this when you post.

CommunicoraApr 01, 2022

Another Disney employee has written a piece about Disney's reaction to the law. This one wrote it without a pseudonym. I wonder if there will be repercussions for him. https://flashinggreen.substack.com/p/i-am-a-gay-employee-at-walt-disney

crawaleApr 01, 2022

Excellent. Teachers should stick to teaching academics until American kids have reached a much higher standard in education than we have now.

CaptainAmericaApr 01, 2022

I don't, but the law is a poor way to address those concerns. It is overly broad in some ways, and overly narrow in others.

crawaleApr 01, 2022

Why do you think 5 year olds need to learn about transgender, LGBQ and other sex related issues?

CaptainAmericaApr 01, 2022

This thread is about Disney's reaction to the law and the associated corporate culture that has led them to their current predicament.

Disney4LyfeApr 01, 2022

No. It's about Bob's response to the law.

fgmntApr 01, 2022

Isn’t this thread about the law?

CaptainAmericaApr 01, 2022

I'm not talking about the law, I'm talking about Disney. I don't support the law. It's a bad law.

fgmntApr 01, 2022

The new law applies penalties to the first thing. You get that, right?