In a statement issued by The Animation Guild’s QueerTAG Committee, the org expressed acute disappointment in The Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Chapek for what it calls “a momentous misstep” in response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The company declined to make an official statement condemning HB 1557 / SB 1834, which forbids public schools from educating kindergarten through third grade students on sexual orientation and gender identity, and opens the doors for parents to sue school districts over violations. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the passed bill into law.
“As one of the world’s most successful brands and a family company that claims to care about its employees and customers, it’s disheartening to see Disney’s failure to take any action to help prevent passage of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida. Moreover, Disney CEO Bob Chapek did not unilaterally condemn this homophobic bill, but instead defended the company’s contributions to legislators who supported it,” the Guild wrote.
“The Walt Disney Company has the opportunity to be a leader in service to the LGBTQ+ community in a way that few other brands can match. The reach and scope of Disney’s operations mean that there are few avenues of everyday life where Disney does not reach. To quote one of Disney’s newly acquired properties, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.'”
Read the full statement here.
Chapek had released a staff memo on Monday citing the company’s support of its LGBTQ+ employees, writing: “As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. Instead, they are often weaponized 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.”
“While we have not given money to any politician based on this issue, we have contributed to both Republican and Democrat legislators [in Florida] who have subsequently taken positions on both sides of the legislation,” Chapek added. “Geoff Morrell, our new Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, will be reassessing our advocacy strategies around the world — including political giving.” You can read Chapek’s memo in full at The Hollywood Reporter.
On Wednesday, the CEO told shareholders his intent to meet with Gov. DeSantis to discuss the bill which he says the company opposed from the outset. Disney also intends to donate $5 million to organizations working to protect LGBTQ+ rights, including the Human Rights Campaign.