The Walt Disney Company has denounced the ‘Dont Say Gay’ bill, which is now a law after being signed by Florida’s governor, and said it would support those working to reverse it.
Officially called the Parental Rights in Education bill, the legislation limits discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. It was passed on Monday.
“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law. Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” read the multimedia company’s statement released later that day.
It added, “We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”
Disney’s statement comes a week after its employees staged a walkout protesting the company’s lack of action regarding the legislation. The multimedia giant drew widespread criticism for having donated money to all sponsors of the 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.
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.
Several of Disney’s subsidiaries released statements in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, without specifically calling out the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.
Marvel Studios was the first Disney-offshoot to denounce “all legislation that infringes on the basic human rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
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.”
Meanwhile, as part of an earlier statement condemning 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 actively been censoring LGBTQIA+ content in Pixar films.
Following this, Disney recently restored a same-sex kiss scene in the upcoming Pixar film Lightyear.