A controversial Florida bill has resulted in a number of actions and statements from the Disney Company, Disney’s CEO, other Disney leaders, and more.
During the recent Disney Shareholder Meeting, we heard from Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, about the Company’s position on the Florida bill and what steps it plans to take moving forward. Now, there have been more developments.
The Florida bill in question is called the one critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. The full name of this piece of legislation is the “Parental Rights in Education” bill. According to The Hill, if the Bill is ultimately passed in Florida, it would “restrict mention of LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms that are not ‘age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.’” The bill would also give parents “greater authority to take legal action against school districts believed to be in violation.”
We won’t go into an in-depth discussion of the bill here. But if you want to read more about the Bill itself, read some of the Bill’s actual text, learn about what criticisms have been made regarding Disney’s response (or initial lack thereof) to the Bill, see former Disney CEO Bob Iger’s response to the Bill , and more, you can click here
Already, we’ve shared a look at the initial statement Disney made in response to the Bill (which was shared by Good Morning America) and the additional statements Disney CEO Bob Chapek later sent out via a memo. Then, during Disney’s recent shareholder meeting Chapek shared more about how Disney was “opposed to the bill from the outsetbut  chose not to take a public position on it because [they] thought [they] could be more effective working behind the scenes.” Chapek shared more about how their weeks of effort were ultimately unsuccessful.
The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill has passed the Florida House and Florida Senate, and now needs the signature of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to become law.
Chapek also shared that he recently called Florida Governor DeSantis to express his “disappointment” and concerns about what could happen if the bill becomes law.
Aside from sharing what they had already done, Chapek also noted that Disney would be taking further action on this issue. Specifically, he noted that Governor DeSantis had agreed to meet with Chapek and a small delegation of cast members to discuss their concerns with the law. Chapek also noted that Disney would be “signing the Human Rights Campaign’s statement opposing such legislative efforts around the country” as well as “Pledging $5 million towards organizations,” including the Human Rights Campaign, that are “working to protect LGBTQ+ rights.”
To read more about Chapek’s statements during the Shareholder Conference click here!
Following Disney’s shareholder meeting, a number of developments have arisen. We have now seen a statement made from the office of Florida’s Governor, a statement from the Human Rights Campaign, and more.
Statement from Florida’s Governor
First, in response to Chapek’s statements regarding his recent call to Governor DeSantis and their upcoming meeting, the Governor’s office has issued a statement.
According to CNN Business, Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for Governor DeSantis told CNN the following: “Disney contacted our office today to speak with the governor. This is the first time we have heard from Disney regarding HB 1557…The governor did take the call from Mr. Chapek. The governor’s position has not changed.”
The spokeswoman also indicated that “No in-person meeting has been scheduled yet.”
Response from the Human Rights Campaign
A response has also been issued by the Human Rights Campaign (“HRC”) based on Chapek’s comments about signing their statement opposing legislative efforts similar to the Florida Bill, and Disney’s pledge to donate money to this organization.
The press release posted on the The Human Rights Campaign website notes that Chapek’s comments during the shareholder meeting constituted the Disney Company’s “first public statement of opposition to Florida’s House Bill 1557 or the Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill.”
In response to Chapek’s statements and pledge, Joni Madison, the Interim President of HRC issued a statement. In the statement, Madison notes that the HRC will NOT accept the money pledged by Disney until they “build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill, don’t become dangerous laws, and if they do, to work to get them off the books.”
Madison went on to say that “While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida — including hardworking families employed by Disney — today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step.”
Madison’s statement continues by noting that the HRC “encourages Disney, and all employers, to continue to fight for their employees – many of whom bravely spoke out to say their CEO’s silence was unacceptable.”
Madison ended the statement by saying, “Every student deserves to be seen, and every student deserves an education that prepares them for health and success — regardless of who they are. This should be the beginning of Disney’s advocacy efforts rather than the end.”
Response from Disney
Disney has now provided a response to the HRC’s decision not to accept their donation. According to Variety, a spokesperson for Disney said that they “signed the HRC’s national business statement opposing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation other pledged to financially support their efforts.”
The spokesperson went on to say that while Disney was “surprised and disappointed that [the HRC] will not take our financial support at this timewe remain committed to meaningful action to combat legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community.”
This is, of course, a developing situation. We’ll continue to look for more updates from the HRC, Disney, the Florida government, and more regarding this Bill.