California Gov. Begs Disney To Not Relocate Cast Members Amid “Don’t Say Gay” Outrage

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Lately, the Walt Disney Company has been in some hot water after the company refused to outwardly comment on the new “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida. Although most recently, Disney CEO Bob Chapek did finally speak out against the bill, and sided with the LGBTQ+ community who Disney both staffs as Cast Members and invites as Guests, some have not been thrilled on how everything has been handled with such a delicate matter.

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As noted 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.” President Joe Biden has come out stating that the bill is “hateful” on Twitter, where previous CEO Bob Iger chimed in in agreement.

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Originally, Disney did release a statement, however, it did not make any mention of the bill, or Disney’s stance on the subject, which left many disappointed. The statement read:

“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.”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s internal email to Cast Members, which was leaked online had left fans are calling for him to be fired from the company. Although the email went public, this was not due to Disney wanting to release the statement as a public one, but due to the email being leaked by recipients.

Now, 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.”

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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.”

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That being said, many have been deeply hurt by the bill which has been passed through Florida’s legislature, and Disney’s long stint without comment. This has left the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, to come out publically on social media and offer refuge to LGBTQ+ Cast Members if Disney would allow workers to stay in California, and not move so much of the staff to Lake Nona in Florida.

Disney, the door is open to bring those jobs back to California – the state that actually represents the values of your workers.

In case you did not know, a lot of Disney employees have been relocated to Lake Nona in Florida, which left many feeling ready to walk away from The Walt Disney Company as they did not want to move across the country for the job.

What do you think about how Disney has navigated the “Don’t Say Gay” bill outrage? 

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