Activist Disney employees upset over the company’s initial lack of opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill called a job walkout for Tuesday — only to see more employees turn out to protest in California than in the Sunshine State.
The Florida bill — labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents and allied media — would bar classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.
The measure is expected to be signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
An all-day walkout was planned for Tuesday by Disney’s “LGBTQIA+ community and their allies,” but only one Disney employee could be found protesting outside of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., according to WESH 2, a local NBC affiliate.
The employee, Nicholas Moldonado, was not scheduled to work on Tuesday and didn’t know how many other employees planned on participating, the news outlet reported. The organizers noted on their website that the full-day walkout was “not a legally protected action.”
The walkout took on a few different forms, according to organizers, such as people simply staying home from work, working remotely, calling out sick, and putting an “away” message on their email explaining their support for the walkout, WESH 2 reported.
Although unable to enter the Disney resort or the company’s corporate offices to see how many employees walked out on the job, the outlet reported that it appeared park operations were unaffected by the walkout.
CNBC field producer Steve Desaulniers tweeted a video of Disney employees protesting, captioning the post, “Hundreds of Disney employees walking out at company HQ in Burbank #DisneyWalkout”.
According to The New York Times, however, only about 60-70 Disney employees walked around Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, and “a smattering of Disney employees gathered in protest” down the street at the Bette Davis Picnic Area, but they appeared to be outnumbered by press members at one point.
DeSantis said in a news conference on Tuesday that it was “unfortunate Disney bought into the false narratives” about the Parental Rights in Education bill, according to WESH 2.
“If you are out protesting this bill, you are by definition putting yourself in favor of sexual instruction to 5-, 6-, and 7-year-old kids,” he said. “I think most people think that’s wrong, I think parents especially think that’s wrong.”
The Walt Disney World Facebook and Instagram accounts posted this message on Tuesday: “To ALL who come to this happy place, welcome. Disney Parks, Experiences and Products is committed to creating experiences that support family values for every family, and will not stand for discrimination in any form. We oppose any legislation that infringes on basic human rights, and stand in solidarity and support our LGBTQIA+ Cast, Crew, and Imagineers and fans who make their voices heard today and every day.”
Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced at a company-wide meeting on Monday that Disney leadership will conduct a global listening tour to meet with U.S. and international gay, transgender, and non-binary employees, Reuters reported. The company is also creating an LGBTQ+ task force that will bring in experts to help Disney develop a plan to make it “a force for good” for LGBTQ+ communities.
Disney’s Chief Human Resources Officer Paul Richardson announced on Monday that the company is also planning to take action against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to investigate parents who let their children undergo “gender-transitioning procedures,” The Daily Wire reported.
Following the backlash over Disney’s initial response to the Florida bill, the company also reinstated a same-sex kiss that was previously cut in the new “Lightyear” film, which is based off of the “Toy Story” character Buzz Lightyear, Variety reported.
As Disney moves further to the left, conservative employees are voicing their concerns over the company becoming “an increasingly uncomfortable place to work for those of us whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive.”
In an open letter published on Monday requesting Disney return to political neutrality, the employees wrote anonymously, “The company’s evolving response to the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation in Florida has left many of us wondering what place we have in a company actively promoting a political agenda so far removed from our own,” The Daily Wire reported.
“TWDC leadership frequently communicates its commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where cast members feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and being their authentic selves at work. That is not our workplace experience.
“Over the last few weeks, we have watched as our leadership has expressed their condemnation for laws and policies we support. We have watched as our colleagues, convinced that no one in the company could possibly disagree with them, grow increasingly aggressive in their demands. They insist that TWDC take a strong stance on not only this issue but other legislation and openly advocate for the punishment of employees who disagree with them.”
One Disney employee at the company-wide meeting on Monday told The Daily Wire that “These activist employees and outside organizations recognize Disney’s cultural significance.
“They want to use the company to make an end-run around parents through content creation and political pressure. They see it as their mission to rescue the next generation from their conservative parents.”
The employee concluded from the meeting, “This is a complete institutional takeover. Disney is lost.”