Bob Chapek Calls FL Gov., Says Disney Does NOT Support “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

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ron desantis (left) bob chapek (right)

The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek has been under fire after Disney’s initial statement and Chapek’s email to Cast Members was released regarding the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Now, Bob Chapek is addressing the topic again, this time saying he called Florida Governor Ron DeSantis directly saying Disney was “opposed to the bill from the outset”.

bob chapek
Credit: Screenshot via Annual Shareholders Meeting

Related: Animation Guild Speaks Out, Says Disney “Failed” After “Don’t Say Gay” Statement

After multiple days passed by, The Walt Disney Company finally released a statement on the newly passed “Don’t Say Gay” bill. But even after Disney finally released a statement on the matter, fans were even more upset and angry. Disney stated that it understood the issue’s importance to employees and customers, but fans felt the statement was a “slap in the face” as it never actually took a stance on the bill itself.

Many are dubbing the bill the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because it targets the LGBTQ community. Specifically, it states:

“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

When speaking to the controversial Florida bill, which was passed at the end of February, the NPR states:

“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.”

bob chapek onstage
Credit: Disney

After the backlash from the initial statement, the Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek sent out an internal email to Cast Members, which was leaked online — and fans called for him to be fired from the company (again).

However, Chapek is trying to clear things up as he took the initiative to speak to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis directly.

Today, during the Annual Shareholders Meeting, before the Q&A session, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he wanted to address the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying that Disney was “opposed to the bill from the outset” and that Disney will pledge $5 million to protect LGBTQ+ rights:

“I know that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill. We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

We were hopeful that our longstanding relationships with those lawmakers would enable use to achieve a better outcome, but despite weeks of effort we were ultimately unsuccessful.”

Bob Chapek
Credit: Disney

He went on to say:

“I called Gov. DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if legislation becomes law it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary and transgender kids and families. The governor heard our concerns and agreed to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address that.

I understand our original approach no matter how well-intended didn’t quite get the job done. We are committed to support the community going forward.”

Chapek also stated, “We stand with our LGBTQ+ community going forward as well as advocacy for this group. We take very seriously our inclusion across the company, we unequivocally stand in support of this group.”

bob chapek with mickey and minnie
Credit: Disney

Chapek also said that he called Florida Governor Ron DeSantis directly and spoke to him regarding the bill, saying he had an “extraordinary conversation” about the process that the state went through, the law-making bodies, and most importantly, what comes next. Chapek informed listeners that DeSantis agreed to a meeting to discuss the bill further.

According to Chapek, Ron DeSantis committed to the Disney CEO that he wanted to make sure that this law could not be weaponized in any way by individuals or groups in the state to unduly harm LGTBQ kids and families. DeSantis suggested the two could look at the legislation as written and participate with our LGBTQ population and come up with ideas and concerns of specific aspects of the legislation.

Chapek informed listeners that DeSantis was very open to finding out what aspects of the bill were most concerning and is willing to work to ensure those concerns will not happen.

Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company as a whole has been pushing inclusion for quite some time now. From reimagining Splash Mountain into a The Princess and the Frog theme to having a gender-neutral dress code at the Parks, the company has made multiple efforts in depicting more accurate representation.

We have also seen the Disney Parks transition the welcome announcements Guests hear in various lands and attractions to be more accommodating to all Guests when walking into the theme parks. Instead of greeting Guests by saying, Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” the theme parks now say, “Hello everyone,” moving toward a more inclusive statement that applies to people of all genders. You can read more about this here.

disney ceo bob chapek with mickey mouse
Credit: Disney

Disney has also listed out their intentions for this new initiative.

  • To make progress that ensures our workforce reflects the market.
  • To establish inclusion standards across all Disney General Entertainment content. By 2022, 50% of regular and recurring characters across Disney General Entertainment scripted content will come from underrepresented groups.
  • Over $100M Charitable Giving to programs serving underrepresented communities (Fiscal Year 2020). To ensure we direct more than 50% of our annual charitable giving to programs serving underrepresented communities.
  • To put the responsibility for an inclusive culture in the hands of our leaders and employees through comprehensive education and engagement efforts.

How do you feel about Bob Chapek’s latest statement on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill? Let us know in the comments below.

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