Universal Employee Quits, Bashes Company’s Silence on “Don’t Say Gay” Law and Pride Month

in Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando welcom sign

Credit: ITM

The Walt Disney Company is wrapped up in a public battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Credit: State of Florida Office of the Governor

Though DeSantis allegedly warned the company and its CEO, Bob Chapek, not to get involved in Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, protest from the LGBTQIA+ community inspired The Walt Disney Company to publicly denounce the controversial law.

Related: Disney Debuts Pride Collection After Backlash, Donates 100% of Profits

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.”

Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Universal via Twitter

Down the road from Walt Disney World in Central Florida, Universal Orlando Resort chose not to comment publicly on the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

One former Universal employee took to Twitter this Sunday to explain why he quit. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Twitter user @TaranTrinnaman asked a Universal executive what she was planning to do for Pride Month in the wake of the “Don’t Say Gay” law:

So I quit Universal last night so I can now share this: during a mandatory company meeting last month with the CEO, I asked her point blank what the company was doing in the wake of the silence to the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill and would do to honor LGBTQ employees & guests during Pride month after their silence. Basically what was the company I’d joined that promised diversity and had a memorial for the victims of Pulse going to do this next month for me and my community.

The former employee felt his question wasn’t really answered and was told that while the executive didn’t personally support the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Universal chose silence to avoid political conflict:

Not only did I get an incredibly round about answer where I was told that while personally they disagreed with Desantis’s bill, they didn’t want to “continue the political debate” and chose silence.

And I could go to the company and Comcast websites online to see the offerings they had for LGBTQ employees and what the company did for LGBTQ people and what they were planning for Pride month. Which they couldn’t tell me in any detail what those would be or even hint at.

Universal Studios Hollywood hosted a Pride Night in collaboration with LA Pride in 2021, but never announced a similar event this year in Los Angeles or at Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal Hollywod pride
Credit: LA Pride

Coworkers were supportive, even thankful, but the former Universal employee felt dismissed and ignored:

And I can distinctly remember just…shutting down after that answer because I had never felt more dismissed or given the run around in my life. But the unexpected outcome of this moment was for days afterwards, I had coworkers come up to me and say they appreciated what I did and how necessary that conversation was. So while I was annoyed with the higher ups, I felt like I wanted to stay because atleast I had the support of my team members and they were really great people.

The final straw was when Universal employees received an email about what the company was doing for Team Members for Pride Month. They were stunned at the lack of programming:

Not only were there only going to be four workshops around LGBTQ issues but centering higher up leaders in the company, not only were there no meetings to introduce team members to the only resource group Universal has for LGBTQ members and allies

But they third workshop was a planned memorial for the Pulse victims specifically to “how we can better honor their memory” years later. And the absolute audacity at that after everything with what the CEO herself said last month and the silence before? Absolutely galling.

Now, the former Team Member reports, one of the four workshops has been cancelled:

And I recently checked to see when that workshop was going to be and I saw that now there are only THREE workshops being offered the entirety of June. The Pulse memorial one can now no longer be seen on the team member events calendar.

And that email was just one of the final nails into the coffin for me as well as talking to team members the last two weeks while at work. I don’t want to be in a company where so many in leadership choose silence over action, even while team members are begging to be heard.

Later in the Twitter thread, the former Team Member reports that it took years for upper management to listen to feedback about dangerous and unsafe costume pieces in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

Like it took until 2022- years after both Harry Potter lands have been built- for upper management to actually listen to my fellow team members that the wardrobe for those lands for our role specifically was a health concern

(It was leading to severe overheating+dehydration and other concerns due to not only the material used but also the layering involved so imagine going out into August Orlando heat in British winter gear pulling 🗑 for 12 hrs)

The former Universal employee also works for The Walt Disney Company. He states that while he hasn’t been happy with how upper management and CEO Bob Chapek have handled Pride Celebrations and the “Don’t Say Gay” law, he feels that his immediate management and peer group want to push for positive change:

But since 2020, I’ve repeatedly seen my immediate leaders and mid-level management show that they are listening and caring. To show by their actions they believe in inclusion and want to, within the confines of the system, make that possible.

It’s going to work and in multiple locations almost a year after the Key of Inclusion being announced and having permanent installations talking about why pronouns are so important and showcasing the different pronouns of cast members in your department.

The former Team Member continued:

It’s seeing after everything with Chapek higher ups and entire divisions of the company break rank and speak up, including @Pixar and @DisneyAnimation to show support for LGBTQ members and the community

Things I never saw nor heard while at Universal these last several months of working for them.

Do you think Universal Orlando Resort should’ve made a statement about the “Don’t Say Gay” law in support of their LGBTQIA+ Team Members? 

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