Disney-owned companies, namely Hulu, ESPN, National Geographic, and Disney+, denounced Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill on Tuesday, even as employees of the media giant continued their protest over the parent company’s lack of action.
The statements from the Disney subsidiaries followed the week-long virtual protests by employees, that started on March 15 and culminated in a walkout staged at all the major Disney-owned offices, to demand action against the recently-passed legislation.
Known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, the legislation limits discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. Disney has drawn criticism for previously having donated money to all sponsors of this bill and for subsequently not taking a strong stand against it.
Although, CEO Bob Chapek apologised to Disney’s LGBTQ+ employees, via an email on March 12, and announced that the company would pause all political contributions in Florida, Disney’s staff organised the walkout to pressure Disney into permanently pulling funding from the supporters of the bill as well as commit to an actionable plan to protect employees from such legislation in the future.
The walkout was held at the offices of Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disneyland, and Pixar.
Actors Mark Ruffalo and Kerry Washington voiced their support for the walkout on Tuesday.
In a statement on Twitter, Washington condoned Disney’s actions and wrote, “I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQIA+ employees, and stand with them in this walkout today.”
Ruffalo responded to Washington’s tweet, and wrote, “Standing proud and in solidarity with our LBGTQIA+ family!”
Earlier, Marvel Studios was the first Disney-offshoot to denounce “all legislation that infringes on the basic human rights of the LGBTQIA+ community,” last week.
Streamers Disney+ and Hulu followed suit and released similar statements this week.
Sports channel and streamer ESPN added in its statement, “We’ll continue to partner with organisations that support the LGBTQIA+ community, be accountable where we fall short of expectations, and never stop telling stories about LGBTQIA+ athletes,” and shared stories of athletes from the community in subsequent Twitter posts.
Meanwhile, as part of an earlier statement condoning Disney’s soft response to the bill, Pixar employees had asserted that the Chapek’s promise of support “rang hollow” when executives at Disney have been actively been censoring LGBTQIA+ content in Pixar films.
Following this, Disney recently restored a same-sex kiss scene in the upcoming Pixar film Lightyear.