In late February 2022, Florida lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis introduced the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, officially titled “The Parental Rights in Education Act.” Ahead of conflict with The Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Chapek, DeSantis now says he warned the company not to get involved.
According to NPR, the “Don’t Say Gay” law “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.”
Outrage ensued when The Walt Disney Company’s political donations came into the spotlight. Public records show The Walt Disney Company has donated to every politician who sponsored the bill.
This led to protests from Cast Members and Disney fans, many of whom are members of the LGBTQIA+ community. On March 3, Disney released this statement:
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.” MORE:
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."
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 4, 2022
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community were frustrated with this statement, which doesn’t directly mention or condemn Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Pixar staff wrote The Walt Disney Company a letter asking the company to take a stronger stance against the bill.
One day later, The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek called Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to tell him that Disney does not support the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which was later passed and signed into law. Disney promised to pause political donations in Florida due to the controversial bill after donating $4.8 million to Florida campaign funds in 2020.
In an interview with conservative commenter Dave Rubin this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he told Disney that getting involved with the “Don’t Say Gay” law would be bad for them. The interview is locked behind a paywall for Rubin’s subscribers, but this section is available from Business Insider:
“I though it was a mistake for Disney to get involved, and I told them, ‘You shouldn’t get involved, it’s not going to work out well for you.’”
The Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Chapek have not publicly spoken about this conversation with Governor DeSantis, but continues to support LGBTQIA+ youth and healthy conversations about sexuality and gender identity.
Gov. DeSantis acted almost immediately, introducing and passing legislation to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, effective in 2023.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District was initially established in 1967 as a part of The Reedy Creek Improvement Act, allowing Walt Disney World to install and run its own government services surrounding its theme parks in Orlando. This prevented local taxpayers from paying for municipal services such as fire protection, water, roads, electrical power, etc.
Insiders suggest Governor Ron DeSantis plans to introduce a specially appointed committee to operate the former Reedy Creek Improvement District when it dissolves in 2023.
What do you think of Governor Ron DeSantis’s alleged warning to The Walt Disney Company? Let us know in the comments.