Florida lawmakers passed the bill on March 8, 2022, which would generally ban discussions of sexuality and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade classrooms and allow parents to sue schools if staff members facilitate these conversations.
“A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in the elementary grades or in a way that is not appropriate for the age or development of the students,” says the bill, but does not define which subjects are “age appropriate”. or “developmentally appropriate”.
Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek sent an internal memo to employees, addressing the controversy and acknowledging the company’s “disappointment” for not clearly responding to Florida’s bill and why. she made the decision to do so.
“As we’ve seen time and time again, corporate pronouncements do very little to change results or minds,” Chapek said in the memo. “Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective means of achieving change.”
Over the past two years, Disney has given nearly $200,000 to Florida lawmakers who supported the LGBTQ+ bill, including the bill’s Republican sponsors, State Rep. Joe Harding and Sen. of the state Dennis Baxley, according to Popular information.
Dana Terracethe creator of Disney’s ‘The Owl House’, denounced Chapek’s response, saying the memo “contained nothing of value, just a pile of hollow reassurances and a defensive finger pointing at their ‘inspirational content'”.
“We were told that discrimination around the world would be destroyed by children who were inspired by Disney shows and movies, but it will be terribly difficult when those same children are raised in discriminatory environments emboldened by Disney financial support. to homophobic lawmakers,” she told Insider in an email.
Terrace added, “I just thought the memo was a pathetic attempt to quell our cries.”
In the memo sent out last week, Chapek said the company would “bring lasting change through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support,” which, according to Terrace, is insufficient to make the long run. change.
“Disney shouldn’t rely on its content to inspire a generation of better people, that’s not how things work,” Terrace told Insider. “If they want to support various underrepresented groups and communities, they must ALSO speak out against those who want to harm those people.”
Amid continued criticism of the company’s response, Chapek later announced that the company would sign a Human Rights Campaign petition against US bills similar to the Florida bill and would a $5 million donation to HRC, which said last Wednesday it would not accept the money.
“The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like the Don’t Bill t Say Gay or Trans from Florida, do not become dangerous laws, and if they do, to work to get them off the books,” the HRC statementread.
The company also said it would reassess its “political donations” strategies following criticism for past donations to lawmakers who supported the bill, including its Republican sponsors, State Rep. Joe Harding and Sen. of State Dennis Baxley.
“You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I’m sorry,” he wrote, adding that the company would suspend all political donations in the state.
A Disney representative did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on internal criticism of the company’s response.
Terrace said she thought Chapek’s apology was “good but also way too little, way too late.”
“The bare minimum would be to see the actual fulfillment of those commitments,” she said.
She added: “Hopefully this is the start of some positive change, really, but let’s see if Bob can put his money where his mouth is.”