In recent weeks, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has been struggling to get back into the good graces of thousands of Cast Members. They have been upset with him over his handling of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. Critics of the bill say that it unfairly targets the LGBTQ+ community. Chapek held out on condemning the bill and only did so when pressured. Since then, he has repeatedly told his Cast Members that he opposes the bill and supports them. He also paused all political donations to Florida politicians, but the damage had been done.
Cast Members were so upset with Chapek that they organized a “Disney Do Better Walkout”. While the walkouts started small, they are set to culminate on March 22, with a massive walkout. In what appears to be an attempt to prevent the walkout, Chapek held a last-minute virtual town hall on Monday, March 21. During the town hall, Chapek once again apologized for the companies fumbling on the bill. Chapek also said that he would use what happened as a catalyst for more meaningful change.
According to sources who spoke to The Wall Street Journal:
The company said it would be aggressive in opposing an effort by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to have the state investigate parents for possible child-abuse charges if their transgender children receive hormone blockers or other medical treatments. A state judge has temporarily blocked the governor’s order.
Disney also said it was creating a companywide task force to develop strategies and action plans to work with employees, creators and Disney partners to be a more positive force for the LGBT community. The task force will be overseen by film executive Paul Roeder and Disney Parks marketing executive Lisa Becket and new content for children and family will be a large part of its focus, the people at the meeting said.
Mr. Chapek and other senior leaders said they would also do a global listening tour of employees.
While the Florida bill has been getting a majority of the attention, Texas is working on passing its own legislation — which many consider dangerous to the LGBTQ+ community. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas state legislature recently passed a bill declaring that gender-affirming treatments to children under 18 constitute child abuse. The legislation was recently struck down by a federal judge, but Governor Abbott plans to fight for it.
While Disney has stopped political donations to Florida politicians, it is unknown if they are still donating to any politicians in Texas. Many Cast Members believe that actions speak louder than words, so if Chapek is honest about wanting to step up in fighting against the Texas legislation, it is possible we may see Disney stop donations in that state as well.