Disney Cast Members Planning “Disney Do Better Walkout”

Disney Walkout
Credit: WhereisChapek.com

It looks like things may be going from bad to worse for The Walt Disney Company. The company has been battling a ton of negative attention over the past few weeks — mainly directed at CEO Bob Chapek. Chapek has been the ire of thousands of Cast Members due to his handling of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill. Many Cast Members are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and they feel directly attacked by the bill.  The Parental Rights in Education Bill would prohibit educators from talking about subjects like gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K through 3.

Bob Chapek

Credit: Disney

While the bill was incredibly controversial from the time it was introduced, things ramped up when it was passed by the Florida House of Representatives on February 25. For days, Disney refused to make a statement and did so reluctantly, which was apparent to many. Bob Chapek then tried to repair some of the damage with a company-wide email, and that seemingly went over worse than the original statement. Disney finally spoke out against the bill and said that it would be pausing all political donations in Florida, but Cast Members found the action largely performative.

Disney World Pride

Credit: Jonathan Lovitz Twitter

It now looks like Cast Members are planning to take their displeasure to the next level. A website has been created, and the site says that Disney Cast Members are planning walkouts. Here is what the Cast Members who created the site had to say:

The Walt Disney Company’s (TWDC) LGBTQIA+ community and their allies are determined to take a stand against TWDC’s apathy in the face of the bigoted “Don’t Say Gay” bill put forth by the FL state legislature.

The recent statements and lack of action by TWDC leadership regarding the “Don’t Say Gay” bill have utterly failed to match the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety represented by this legislation.

As a community, we have been forced into an impossible and unsustainable position. We must now take action to convince TWDC to protect employees and their families in the face of such open and unapologetic bigotry.

Starting the week of March 14th we will begin a series of collective actions together in order to make our voices and demands heard!

Disney World Cast Members

Credit: Disney

The site has multiple dates and times listed for the walkouts. Cast Members are also told that the walkouts are protected while they are on breaks,  but the major walkout that will take place on March 22 will not be protected since it will be a full-stage, longer walkout. Cast Members are not required to participate in the massive walkout, and they want each member to consider their own personal situation before they make a decision.

 Cast member

Credit: Disney

In addition to staging the walkouts, the employees have also created an open letter to Disney, voicing their discontent. The Cast Members feel let down by the company they have given so much to. You can read the full letter below.

The recent statements by The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) leadership regarding the Florida legislature’s recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill have utterly failed to match the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety represented by this legislation. Primarily, those statements have indicated that leadership still does not truly understand the impact this legislation is having not only on Cast Members in the state of Florida, but on all members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the company and beyond. While we certainly appreciate Bob Chapek’s apology note, there is still more work to be done.

Due to the lack of compassion and advocacy, TWDC’s LGBTQIA+ community and their allies are determined to take a stand via multiple direct actions, including both virtual and in-person protests – the first of which will take place on Tuesday, March 15th.

– TWDC’s previous suggestions for addressing the concern around this law have included:

– Creating more inclusive content

– Encouraging a welcoming culture

– Supporting diverse community organizations

As Mr. Chapek states in his apology note: “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights.” We reaffirm that “both sides” rhetoric is harmful and hurtful because being LGBTQIA+ is not a political opinion or side – it is people, community, and families. We are glad to see that we agree with Mr. Chapek on this – it is about human rights and not political affiliation. We’d like to take this opportunity to make it clear – Cast Members’ identities are not “political issues,” our safety and well-being is crucial to the success of this company, no cast member or their families should be forced to live in fear, and it is unacceptable to use the profits of our labor to take our human rights away.

We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in Florida, who will be directly harmed by this new law and yet still required to perform their duties for a company that not only failed to prevent, but also tacitly funded it. This becomes especially concerning when you consider that TWDC is requiring even more employees to work and live in Florida, making even more Cast Members targets for this hateful law.

TWDC claims to integrate DEI in it’s core values but the employees have yet to see fruitful integration of this program that is properly uplifting marginalized voices, moreover in an intersectional way. By supporting the politicians who brought this legislation and not taking a public stand against it, Chapek and TWDC leadership have made it clear they are more than willing to sacrifice their employees’ health and wellness in service of the bottom line. We will not stand for this anymore.

TWDC’s LGBTQIA+ community and their allies will be participating in some combination of the following actions to protest this gross inaction and lack of accountability:

1. A coordinated work break protest

2. A “walk out” / “sick out”

3. Other venues of protest as folks feel comfortable

Our community will not sit silently while TWDC fails in its obligations to advocate for employees it claims to support with “unwavering commitment”, profits off our labor, and boasts of record profits it has used to fund politicians who legislate unsafe schools for our youth. The ongoing attempts to placate the LGBTQIA+ community with subpar representation in the content produced and donations to well-meaning organizations are simply not enough. You cannot fix this with educational seminars or token background characters – even organizations like HRC refuse your money until action is taken.

As a community, we have been forced into an impossible and unsustainable position and must now take action to convince TWDC to protect employees and their families in the face of such open and unapologetic bigotry.

The following are the steps that TWDC needs to do in order to regain the trust of the LGBTQIA+ community and employees:

1. A temporary pause is not enough – we require a commitment. TWDC must immediately and indefinitely cease all campaign donations to these politicians involved in the creation or passage of the “don’t say gay” bill:

– Ron DeSantis

– Ben Albritton

-Dennis Baxley

– Aaron Bean

– Jim Boyd

– Jason Brodeur

– Doug Broxson

– Danny Burgess

– Manny Diaz

– George Gainer

– Ileana Garcia

– Joe Gruters

– Gayle Harrell

– Ed Hooper

– Travis Hutson

– Debbie Mayfield

– Kathleen Passidomo

– Keith Perry

– Ray Rodrigues

– Ana Rodriguez

– Kelli Stargel

– Wilton Simpson

2. Mr. Chapek has noted: “Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values.” While we appreciate this sentiment, we require more details.TWDC must publicly commit to an actionable plan that protects employees from hateful legislation including:

a. Reflecting their commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community by stopping construction and investment in the state of Florida until hateful legislation is repealed.

b. Stopping any efforts to move employees to Florida office locations, ensuring employee safety and employment retention.

c. Guaranteeing no employee will be terminated when denying relocation to FL.

3. TWDC must reaffirm the company’s commitment to protecting and advocating for its LGBTQIA+ staff, even in the face of political risk. This must include full transparency into political and organizational contributions – full accountability is not negotiable.

4. TWDC must take responsibility for their inaction to protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ children and their families by making substantial contributions to The Trevor Project, Trans Life and other human rights advocacy groups in an effort to regain our trust in the company’s inclusion and equality efforts.

5. TWDC should allocate content spending and outline how it will expand its content catalog to represent the LGBTQIA+ as well as transparent reporting on methods of community inclusion in content creation and inception.

6. TWDC pledges to create an LGBTQIA+ brand similar to that of “The Onyx Collective” focusing on LGBTQ+ creators and underrepresented voices.

The LGBTQIA+ community is no stranger to advocating for ourselves – Pride is a protest, after all. Our community in TWDC is no different and we will show you how strong we are together.

This letter is in partnership with members of the LGBTQIA+ community across Disney Corporate, Disney Television Animation, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, Disney Streaming, Enterprise Finance, Enterprise Technology/Global Information Security, Bento Box

Credit: D23

The team planning the walkouts is hoping that they go far beyond the Parks. They want Cast Members from all parts of the Walt Disney Company, from the Parks to the corporate offices, to stand with them.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!