On February 25, the Florida House of Representatives passed the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill. The bill has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by supporters of the LGBTQ+ community. Many quickly spoke out against the controversial bill — including Disney’s former CEO Bob Iger. Many called on Disney to condemn the bill, based on the large amount of power the company holds in the state. Despite the calls from many, including politicians, Disney remained silent.
However, that is now changing. In the wake of much criticism, Disney has finally released a statement on the Parental Rights in Education bill. The statement was shared in a tweet by Good Morning America. The statement by Disney reads:
“We understand how important this issue is to our LGBTQ+ employees and many others. For nearly a century, Disney has been a unifying force that brings people together. We are determined that it remains a place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. The biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create here and the diverse community organizations we support, including those representing the LGBTQ+ community.”
NEW: Disney responds to protests and calls for action surrounding Florida's "Don't Say Gay" Bill, saying in part, "The biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce."
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 4, 2022
It is possible that Disney has chosen to speak out on the bill due to the intense backlash they have been receiving for remaining quiet. A recent article from The Hollywood Reporter spoke to insiders who said that Disney CEO Bob Chapek does not comment on issues like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and voting rights, as he considers them “irrelevant to the company”.
Recently, a group of protestors set up outside of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank to protest the company’s silence. A video of the protest was shared on Reddit, where it is picking up traction.
While it took Disney a while to speak up on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, they were quick to condemn Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Disney was the first film studio to denounce the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The company announced that they were pulling all plans for theatrical releases in Russia. That decision was quickly followed by similar actions from Sony Pictures, Paramount Studios, and Warner Bros.
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is currently being considered by the Florida State Senate. It is expected to pass the Senate and then be signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.