On March 28, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially signed the Parental Rights in Education Bill into law. The controversial bill states that topics like gender identity and sexual orientation will not be allowed to be discussed in classrooms for children in grades K through 3. The bill has been dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and millions around the country have spoken out against it.
Disney is one of the biggest employers in the Sunshine State and brings millions of dollars into the state every year. Many thought that that would enable Disney to have the power to stop the bill. However, Disney remained largely silent as the bill made its way through the Florida legislature. After building public pressure, Disney made a statement, and then another, but it did nothing to undo the damage that had been done. Disney continued to condemn the bill, but company-wide walkouts still persisted.
With the passing of the contentious bill, Disney is not waiting to make a statement this time around. Shortly after DeSantis signed the bill, Disney released the following statement:
Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law. Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.
According to experts, the legislation may struggle to be upheld due to how vague it is. Critics of the bill are sure to argue that it is unconstitutional, so it will most likely make its way through various courts. It would not be surprising to see the Parental Rights in Education bill end up in front of the Supreme Court.
Disney and Governor DeSantis have been at odds for weeks since Disney decried its passing. Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that he had spoken to Governor DeSantis about working to make sure the bill does not target minority groups. Chapek also said that he would be meeting with the Governor to talk about the bill. That meeting never took place, and DeSantis called Disney “woke” and criticized its business dealings in China. After that, The Walt Disney Company paused political donations to all Florida politicians.
While Disney is reevaluating its donations in the state, if the company plans to follow through on its promise to fight the bill, we may see them start donating to politicians in the state, but only those who are opposed to the bill.