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Josh D'Amaro
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Disney Ignored Pleas From Parks, Experiences and Products Leaders to Speak Up Against Florida Bill

For the past month, people from all sides of the political spectrum have been attacking Disney for its handling of the controversial Florida Parental Rights in Education Bill — also known by many as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Many thought that Disney needed to denounce the bill, as it would target so many of the people that help make Disney magic every day. A lot of other people felt that Disney needed to stay quiet and stay out of politics — despite the fact that Disney has been donating to politicians from both sides for years.

Disney World Pride

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While Disney originally stayed quiet as the bill was passed in both the Florida House of Representatives and the State Senate, after mounting pressure, Disney CEO Bob Chapek finally made a statement. However, for many, it was too little too late. While Disney tried to repair the damaged relationship it now had with thousands of Cast Members, they were unable to prevent multiple walkouts and protests. Since condemning the bill, Disney has paused all political donations in Florida and has announced the creation of a task force to ensure that Disney is a strong ally for its LGBTQ+ Cast Members.

Disney pride

Credit: D23

Disney was one of the most noticeable companies to remain silent during the bill’s passage — mainly because of how important they are to the state of Florida. During that time, the Human Rights Campaign drafted a letter opposing the bill, and more than one hundred companies signed. Those companies included Marriott Hotels and American Airlines. We are now learning that there were major players within Disney who wanted the company to add its name to the list — leaders of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products. That sector of the company is led by Josh D’Amaro.

Josh D'Amaro

Credit: Disney

According to a new report from The New York Times:

More than 150 companies, including Marriott and American Airlines, had signed a Human Rights Campaign letter opposing the legislation, which restricts classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity and has been labeled by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Disney, with roughly 80,000 theme park workers in Florida and a long history of supporting the L.G.B.T.Q. community, was not among them. Leaders at the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products division urged action: Disney’s name should be on the list.

They were rebuffed, according to three people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comply with company strictures about speaking to reporters. Disney’s newly hired corporate affairs chief, Geoff Morrell, and Disney legislative affairs executives — guided by the general desire of Bob Chapek, the chief executive, to avoid publicly weighing in on state political battles — decided that continuing to work behind the scenes had a better chance of a payoff. For weeks, Disney lobbyists in Florida had been pressing to soften the legislation.

Josh D'Amaro

Credit: Disney

Chapek has been struggling to get Guests and Cast Members to see him in a positive light since he took over as CEO in early 2020. Many feel that Disney should oust the embattled Chapek and have suggested that he should be replaced with D’Amaro. Chapek and D’Amaro have not commented on the report that Disney was urged to sign the Human Rights Campaign bill by D’Amaro’s sector.

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!