Disney CEO Bob Chapek said Wednesday that the company opposes the Florida bill that would restrict LGBTQ topics in schools, breaking Disney’s silence on the proposed policy following days of mounting criticism.
Chapek said the company would sign the Human Rights Campaign statement and pledge $5 million to LGBTQ and human rights’ organizations.
“I understand our original approach, no matter how well intentioned, didn’t quite get the job done. But we are committed to supporting the community going forward,” Chapek said.
Florida state senators on Tuesday approved the legislation, which Democrats and LGBTQ activists refer to as the “don’t say gay” bill, and advanced it to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). DeSantis has indicated he is likely to sign.
Chapek said he called DeSantis to express concerns on the bill. According to the CEO, the governor agreed to meet with him and LGBTQ members of Disney’s staff.
DeSantis’s office said in a statement that this was the first time his office heard from Disney on the bill and no in-person meeting has been set.
Statement from @GovRonDeSantis Office about today’s call from Disney regarding Florida’s parental rights in education bill: pic.twitter.com/gN0ZdZpeKj— Christina Pushaw 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) March 9, 2022
In recent weeks, Disney World employees have protested outside the parks, demanding that the company oppose the legislation.
On Monday, Chapek released a company memo defending the decision to remain silent on the bill.
“I do not want anyone to mistake a lack of a statement for a lack of support,” Chapek wrote. “We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world. Where we may differ is in the tactics to get there. And because this struggle is much bigger than any one bill in any one state, I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support.”
Last month, former Disney CEO Robert Iger spoke out against the bill, saying it would put “vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy.”
I'm with the President on this! If passed, this bill will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy. https://t.co/fJZBzre4yM— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) February 25, 2022
Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of one of the Disney co-founders, posted tweets that condemned comments Chapek made in the memo.
1/ Not to beat a dead horse (which is a very un-Disney thing to do anyway) we all know that corporate statements are often merely performative and ineffective. BUT, to claim that "we all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world,"as Chapek does in his internal memo— Abigail Disney (@abigaildisney) March 8, 2022
“Nothing about the ‘don’t say gay bill’ or about Chapek’s memo is consistent with any of these values. Many LGBTQI people and their allies work for or look to Disney for ally-ship,” she said in a Twitter thread. “But Chapek is more worried about right-wing backlash than about his own loyal fans and employees.”
Tim Craig contributed to this report.
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