Disney CEO Bob Chapek fired off another staff email this morning as the backlash grows over the company’s support for the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida.
Last month, Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban any “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantishas defended the bill saying, “When you actually look at the bill and it says ‘no sexual instruction to kids pre-K through three,’ how many parents want their kids to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction?”
“It’s basically saying for our younger students, do you really want them being taught about sex? And this is any sexual stuff. But I think clearly right now, we see a focus on transgenderism, telling kids they may be able to pick genders and all of that.”
Many critics of the bill feel otherwise — LGBTQ+ advocates argue prohibiting conversations about being gay in classrooms could potentially lead to a rise in suicides.
The Florida Senate is expected to vote on the bill later today.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney has donated money to the campaigns for every single politician who has sponsored or co-sponsored the bill. This has caused quite a backlash for Disney — not only publicly but internally.
Earlier today, Chapek sent off another email about the situation but did not apologize for Disney’s support to the politicians.
He said he met with a small group of LGBTQ+ Disney employees on Friday to discuss the controverisal legislation pending in Florida that would “impact their communities.” Chapek thanked them for a “meaningul” and “moving” chat.
“One common theme was disappointment that the company has not issued a public statement condemning the legislation. That disappointment was compounded by the fact that, while not perfect, our company has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ+ community-and in fact, has played an important role in the personal journeys of so many of our employees,” he wrote.
Chapek said Disney and the entire leadership team stand in support of the LGBTQ+ employees and their families. Chapek claimed he had avoided making a statement sooner because, “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds.”
He continued, “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.”
Chapek went on to list the recent films they produced with characters of color including Encanto, Black Panter, Reservation Dogs, and Modern Family (which had a gay couple).
Chapek argued Disney’s content should speak for itself. However, he then went on to say the company did not donate money “to any politician based on [the Don’t Say Gay bill], we have contributed to both Republican and Democrat legislators who have subsequently taken positions on both sides of the legislation.
He ended with a promise that Disney “will be reassessing our advocacy strategies around the world.”
Sources tell us the email was not well received by many at Disney including the LGBTQ+ staff. We’re told they found it disheartening he touted Disney’s gay pride parades and films with people of color — while refusing to speak out against the Florida bill.
Employees are even taking to social media to express their displeasure.
Earlier this month, one Disney employee Benjamin Siemon went viral for tweeting, “I don’t want to risk my career or ability to get future work, I love all I do, but I have to say as an LGBT Disney employee I am hurt, saddened, & feel completely unsupported by the company I have truly loved & dreamed of working for since I was a child. Disney should be better.