The Walt Disney Company issued a statement March 28 after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” act was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.
“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,” the statement reads. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.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.”
Disney faced backlash after it was revealed that the conglomerate funded the bill-backers, including DeSantis. Disney employees criticized the controversial political effort to ban teaching sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida elementary schools. A walkout protest took place March 22 with a faction of Disney employees. Disney-owned animation studio Pixar spoke out against the bill and also reinstated a same-sex kiss in the upcoming “Toy Story” prequel, “Lightyear.” The animation house reportedly originally yielded to executive pressures to remove the scene.
The Walt Disney Co. response to the bill becoming Florida law follows CEO Bob Chapek’s apology about how the company handled the “Don’t Say Gay” backlash.
“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” Chapek wrote in a staff memo distributed by Disney. “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”
At the bill signing, Florida Gov. DeSantis compared Hollywood criticisms over the law to past controversies.
“If the people who held Harvey Weinstein up oppose us on parents’ rights, I wear that like a badge of honor,” DeSantis stated, as reported by the local NBC news channel. “I’m not backing down.”
DeSantis continued, “We’ve seen libraries that have clearly inappropriate pornographic materials for very young kids, and we’ve seen services that were given to students without the consent or even knowledge of their parents across the country, and unfortunately, that’s happened here in the state of Florida.”