Disney to ‘re-evaluate’ political donations after calls to boycott support for ‘Don’t Say Gay’ lawmakers

The Walt Disney Company is ‘reassessing’ its political donations following reports that the company has financially backed major sponsors behind widely criticized legislation in Florida that could forcibly ‘exclude’ LGBT+ students and ban discussion of the subject. gender identity and sexual orientation in schools.

“While we haven’t given money to any politicians based on this issue, we have contributed to Republican and Democratic lawmakers who then took positions on both sides of the legislation,” CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement. communicated. memo March 7.

Mr Chapek said the company’s new director of general affairs, Geoff Morrell, will “reassess our global advocacy strategies – including political donations” after the passage of a so-called “Donation Bill”. ‘t Say Gay” which sparked international outrage.

Campaign finance records reviewed by The Independent found that at least three Disney entities gave major Republican sponsors of the legislation a combined $4,000 for their 2022 re-election campaigns, among thousands of dollars for campaigns supporting GOP lawmakers who support the measure.

“I want to be crystal clear: I and the entire leadership team unequivocally support our LGBTQ+ employees, their families and their communities,” Chapek said Monday. “And we are committed to creating a more inclusive business – and world. I understand that the very need to reiterate this commitment means that we still have work to do.

He also sought to explain why the company – which publicly defends LGBT+ people and promotes its LGBT+ inclusive workplace policies – has not issued a statement on the legislation, which critics say could endanger the lives of young LGBT+ people and have a chilling effect on LGBT+ schoolchildren and their families.

“As we’ve seen time and time again, company statements do very little to change results or minds,” he said. “Instead, they are often militarized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.

He said that the company’s films and programs – pointing to the TV series modern family and movies like Encanto and Black Panther – “are our corporate statements.

“And they are more powerful than any tweet or lobbying effort,” he said. “I strongly believe that our ability to tell such stories – and to receive them with open eyes, ears and hearts – would be diminished if our business became political football in any debate.”

The ‘Parental Rights in Education’ Bill prohibits the teaching of ‘sexual orientation or gender identity’ up to the third grade and any discussion ‘that is not suitable for the age or development of students” in other classes.

The bill passed the state House of Representatives on February 24 and is set to pass the state Senate on March 7. Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into law.

LGBT+ advocacy group Equality Florida, among the measure’s main opponents, says the legislation is “designed to stigmatize LGBTQ people, isolate LGBTQ children, and make teachers fearful of providing a safe and inclusive classroom.” “.

“The existence of LGBTQ students and parents is not a taboo subject that should be regulated by the Florida Legislature,” the group said in a statement.

Disney will host a “Reimagine Tomorrow” panel on March 22 focusing on “issues of concern to our LGBTQ+ colleagues,” followed by a “Reimagine Tomorrow Global Summit” on April 13 that will be “the first gathering of our employees around the world to discuss our progress and our plans to improve diversity, equity and inclusion at Disney,” according to the company.