In recent years, The Walt Disney Company has made great strides in making all its products and experiences more inclusive and welcoming to all people groups, however, one representation is becoming a big focal point for all companies across the world and Disney Guests have surely noticed a lot of changes, especially within the Disney Parks.
Although Walt Disney World is located in Orlando, Florida, a majority-conservative state, the Disney theme Parks tend to stay as non-political as possible. Recently, however, there was a bill passed in the Florida House that has the potential to affect thousands of LBGTQ youth in the state, which Disney seemingly and backhandedly supported.
Known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, this piece of legislation is as simple as the title. As stated by NPR, “The legislation prohibits any instruction about sexuality or gender between kindergarten and third grade, or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
Disney preaches inclusivity within its Parks, movies, entertainment, and advertisement, so it may come as a surprise that the company has actually helped to fund supporters of this “don’t say gay” bill. The Senate sponsor, Ocala Republican Dennis Baxley, has actually backed anti-gay legislation in Florida for years. Baxley once compared kids with same-sex parents to kids raised by alcoholics and abusers, saying: “I’m not phobic, but I simply can’t affirm homosexuality.”
The next year, The Walt Disney Company wrote Baxley a check, with the most recent one coming in last year.
Disney has given money to every single sponsor and co-sponsor of this “Don’t Say Gay” bill, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The somewhat mixed signal of going out of your way to spread the message of inclusivity while also standing behind a bill that could potentially affect thousands of already at-risk youth is somewhat of a head-scratcher for even the most loyal Disney fans.
On the flip side, some Disney Park fans are actually concerned the theme parks are becoming too sensitive and sensitive to “PC culture“. The recent changes to classic attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Jungle Cruise, as well as the upcoming overhaul of Splash Mountain, have put off a big chunk of Guests who visit the Park to escape problems from the “real world”.
As stated earlier, Disney has changed quite a few iconic attractions over the years due to some aspects being considered “offensive” or “insensitive”. We saw Disney change Tom Sawyer’s Island, removing a racially-insensitive term from the log boats. Pirates of the Caribbean have had several changes in order to be more family-friendly, although many think Disney should leave rides like this alone.
Nevertheless, the debate surrounding changes in the Park continues. It does not seem, however, that Disney is anti-LGBTQ as the company continues to support the LGBTQ community by creating more characters that represent those within the community and offering tons of Pride merchandise during Pride Month, as a start. That being said, more can always be done and we look forward to seeing how Disney continues to create inclusive spaces in their Parks and company as a whole.
What do you think about Disney backing supporters of this bill in Florida? Let us know in the comments below.
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