Angry employees and artists who worked for Disney slammed CEO Bob Chapek on social media for not fully condemning Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill on Monday.
Although the CEO vowed his “unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community” in an email to staff Monday, employees griped that the exec did not denounce the bill, under consideration by the Florida Legislature, which would ban teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics like sexual orientation or gender identity with students until after third grade.
“I want to be crystal clear: I and the entire leadership team unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities. And, we are committed to creating a more inclusive company — and world,” Chapek said Monday.
His words sparked outrage among some former Disney employees and fans of the Mouse House, however.
Using the hashtags #DisneySayGay and #DisneyDoBetter, they took to Twitter to sound off on Chapek’s memo and how the CEO declined for weeks to release a statement about the bill and for Disney’s prior donations to statewide elected officials who supported the bill.
“Yesterday the company that I love had one final chance to make a stand for LGBTQ+ rights, to say this bill is wrong and agree to stop funding the people that would vote for a bill that directly harms loyal hardworking employees like me. And they passed and we’re in so much pain,” tweeted Disney animation writer Ben Siemon.
“The Disney contributions to Florida lawmakers behind anti gay legislation was wrong. This legislation is hateful and dangerous,” tweeted a Pixar writer and director. “We need a real action plan that demonstrates your commitment to a safe and inclusive environment for all. #DisneySayGay #DisneyDoBetter.”
“I LOVED being a part of a Disney Channel show known for featuring gay characters AND storylines,” tweeted “Andi Mack” actor Lilan Bowden, also quoting Siemon’s post. “The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill will be DETRIMENTAL to LGBTQIA+ kids. I’m with [Siemon], hoping the company or more ppl in the company take action against this hateful bill. #DisneySayGay.”
“Never been quiet about my love of Disney over the years but being loud about my own identity as a queer human took YEARS,” tweeted Brock Powell, a voice actor featured in “Mickey Mouse Funhouse,” “Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Across the Universe” and “Baymax Dreams.” “Breaks me in pieces that a company that literally pays me to speak is paying to keep me silent by funding puritanical Anti-LGBTQIA+ politicians. #DisneySayGay.”
“It is so frustrating that us LGBT Disney employees have to speak up about existing and wanting other people in our community to be safe, in fear for our livelihoods. If the company is so dedicated to inclusion, why is standing up for the safety of LGBT youth, at odds with it,” tweeted Sam King, who directs “The Ghost and Molly McGee.”
Although Disney’s Chapek will likely refrain from weighing in on the issue in further public statements, the CEO said he will discuss the issue further at the company’s Reimagine Tomorrow Summit in April for employees.
The summit provides a platform for Disney to weigh in on topics relating to diversity, transparency and accountability.
Late last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defended the bill.
He said it wasn’t about discrimination, but instead is meant to ensure there’s no “sexual instruction” given to young students.
“When you actually look at the bill and it says ‘no sexual instruction to kids pre-K through three,’ how many parents want their kids to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction?” DeSantis said, according to a CBS News report.
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