In a statement posted on its social media platforms, Disney condemned the controversial legislation, which is formally known as the Parental Rights in Education bill.
“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” the statement read. “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.”
One of Florida’s largest employers, Disney has faced a barrage of criticism in recent weeks after CEO Bob Chapek announced that the company would stay neutral on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which largely forbids instruction on sexuality and gender identity in most elementary school classrooms. He also confirmed that Disney had made financial contributions to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who “have subsequently taken positions on both sides of the legislation.”
Many Disney employees and fans said they were outraged by Chapek’s remarks, arguing that they made the company’s attempts at LGBTQ-inclusive films, television and theme park merchandising feel like superficial cash grabs. Just days later, Chapek walked back many of his remarks and announced that Disney would pause all of its political donations in Florida to “ensure our advocacy better reflects our values.”
Whether Disney’s vow to help repeal the legislation will silence its critics remains to be seen, but it’s clear the Florida bill and others like it will remain a contentious subject in Hollywood.
Earlier this month, actor Gabrielle Union expressed her frustration over Chapek’s initial reticence on the subject while walking the red carpet at the premiere of her latest film, “Cheaper by the Dozen,” which is produced by Disney. Last week, Disney employees staged 15-minute walkouts as part of a collective effort to urge the company to “protect employees and their families in the face of such open and unapologetic bigotry.”
And on Sunday night, Academy Awards co-hosts Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes each said the word “gay” multiple times in their opening monologue, a thinly veiled jab at the controversy that was particularly notable since the Oscars are broadcast by ABC, a Disney subsidiary.