After Protests, Disney Finally Releases Statement on “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Controversy

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While the Walt Disney Company preaches inclusivity within its Disney Parks and entertainment franchises, the House of Mouse has come under fire recently for funding politicians who have passed a bill restricting conversations around gender and LGBTQ+ identities in schools, commonly coined the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, in the Florida House.

minnie donald goofy and mickey mouse at spaceship earth epcot
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

On the controversial Florida bill, which was passed at the end of February and colloquially dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, 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.”

mickey mouse in front of cinderella castle
Credit: Disney

When it was revealed that Disney had backed the sponsors and co-sponsors of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel, it sparked outrage among the LGBTQ+ community and their Allies. Of the sponsors Disney has funded, Ocala Republican Dennis Baxley is included. The politician controversially compared children with same-sex parents to children raised by alcoholics and abusers, saying he cannot “affirm homosexuality.”

The backlash Disney has received since the Orlando Sentinel reported on their funding activities of the Florida legislature has been immense and passionate. This week protests broke out to support gay rights, retaliating to Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s seeming disregard of the matter when he remained silent, meanwhile, President Joe Biden and former Disney CEO, Bob Iger, both responded to the Florida bill.

bob iger (left) and bob chapek (right) in front of millennium falcon galaxy's edge
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Disney has now released a statement, seemingly commenting on the current controversy, while not referencing the bill or their funding to those politicians supporting and passing the legislation through the Florida House.

As Disney-owned ABC show, Good Morning America announced on social media:

NEW: Disney responds to protests and calls for action surrounding Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, saying in part, “The biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce.”

The statement, in full, reads:

“We understand how important this issue is to our LGBTQ+ employees and many others. For nearly a century, Disney has been a unifying force that brings people together. We are determined that it remains a place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. The biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create here and the diverse community organizations we support, including those representing the LGBTQ+ community.”

bob chapek with mickey and minnie
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Related: Disney Rides Transform to Include Colors of the Rainbow For Pride Month

Disney’s lack of acknowledgment of the actual bill or their funding of those supporting the bill in their statement is likely to draw even more backlash as opposed to simmering the tension. The company’s actions in being somewhat monetarily involved in the “Don’t Say Gay” bill is a far cry from what the Mouse House preached just last year. In a statement on inclusivity and belonging, seemingly including sexual orientation and gender identity, Disney Parks Blog stated:

This is just the beginning as we continue to work toward a world where we all belong – including a more diverse and inclusive Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. There’s more to do, but we’re committed to listening, learning and making meaningful improvements.

The world is changing, and we will change with it, and continue to be a source of joy and inspiration for all the world. We’ll never stop working to make sure that Disney is a welcoming place for all. I’m excited about where we’re headed, and we’ll have more to share soon. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

It is surprising that a large corporation, and one which seemingly celebrates LGBTQ+ peoples with events like Disney Gay Days, and Pride celebrations and merchandise, would not directly address this issue of its dubious legislative affairs.

What do you think of Disney’s statement? Let us know in the comments down below.

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