Governor DeSantis Reignites Disney War With New “Don’t Say Gay”

in Disney, Walt Disney World

ron desantis disney

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Governor Ron DeSantis came to a tentative truce with the Walt Disney Company a few weeks ago, but it seems that the war between the far-right politician and the Mouse House may reignite over a controversial new education bill, much as it began with the notorious “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Governor Ron DeSantis smiling widely
Credit: DeSantis

Disney, DeSantis, and “Don’t Say Gay”

The Parental Rights in Education Act (more popularly known as “Don’t Say Gay”) was a key part of Governor DeSantis’ public campaign against “wokeness” as he geared up to run for the presidency. The controversial bill, which DeSantis signed into law on March 28, 2022, was seen as an attack on LGBTQIA+ rights in Florida and fiercely opposed by activist groups nationwide. Disney has historically kept its corporate political opinions mostly to itself, but that ended up not being the case this time.

Former CEO Bob Chapek eventually came out against the Parental Rights in Education Act, kicking off a months-long war with Governor DeSantis that saw the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District (where most of Walt Disney World is located), Chapek being ousted as CEO and numerous contentious lawsuits.

The Walt Disney Company and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) board of supervisors duked it out in the courts for months. Unlike many other corporate legal conflicts, the battle got heated in public, with allegations of corruption and incompetence flung at the DeSantis appointees, while Disney was accused of being “one of the greatest examples of corporate cronyism in modern American history.”

Ron DeSantis in front of Disney World Cinderella Castle with the CFTOD logo
Credit: DeSantis/CFTOD/Disney, edited by ITM

Related: DeSantis Partner Goes Missing, Discovered in Trashed Hotel Outside Disney World

Unexpectedly, the CFTOD announced a few weeks ago that it had reached a settlement with Disney. According to the terms of the agreement, neither party had to admit that it was in the wrong, the former Reedy Creek would be dispensed with, and state lawsuits would be shelved (though that still leaves a big pending federal appeal).

For a brief moment, it seemed that things had settled down between Ron DeSantis and Walt Disney World. Now, a new education bill is threatening to upset the peace.

Governor Ron Desantis and a New Education Attack

Since conceding his disastrous presidential campaign, Ron DeSantis has been back in Florida and signing a slew of new bills into law. The governor has committed billions to expand the I-4 Highway leading into Walt Disney World, renewed discounts for regular travelers in Florida, and seems to be doing everything he can to leave his mark on the state before he steps down.

Depressed DeSantis against justice scales
Credit: Inside the Magic

Despite the nationwide controversy that erupted over his last attempt to impose restrictions on the Florida educational system, Governor DeSantis is now touting HB 1285, a bill that will be at least as draconian as the original “Don’t Say Gay” law. Notably, the Parental Rights in Education Act has been heavily modified since he signed it into law due to lawsuits from educators and parents. But that doesn’t seem to stop DeSantis when it comes to mandating schools.

At a Pensacola press event, DeSantis discussed HB 1285 (per Florida Politics) and focused on a few elements of the complex bill. The governor specifically highlighted how the new bill (which he says he will sign into law ASAP) will make it easier for public schools to be converted to charter schools, going on to blame teachers and their supposedly exorbitant salaries for students failing to “succeed.”

Related: Governor DeSantis Concedes Disney Doesn’t Have To Obey New Laws

On the official Florida state government website, Governor DeSantis states, “Florida is number one in the nation for education, but there’s always more to be done. We won’t stop working for Florida’s students and parents. HB 1285 codifies several great enhancements for education that will keep Florida #1.”

Ron DeSantis with fireworks at Walt Disney World
Credit: Inside the Magic

The site goes on to specify that HB 1285:

  • Provides a clear and concise process for a struggling school to convert to a charter school.
  • If a school receives consecutive low performance evaluations, it is deemed a “turnaround school.” If the district’s plan to turn the school around does not succeed, the pathway for the school to find new direction and leadership should be simple and efficient.
  • These changes will eliminate lengthy and drawn-out negotiations between the incoming charter school and the school district, to ensure no student is trapped at a failing school in Florida.
  • A charter school must give preference to kids in the previous school zone and must serve the same grade levels as the previous school.
  • The charter school cannot be charged rent for the facility and the school district cannot charge an administrative fee.

Much like he did with the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Governor DeSantis is diving into the very heated discussion between privatized charter schools and public education in the United States. It may be just a matter of time before Disney, one of the most child-centered businesses in the world, is forced to take a stance on this latest foray into regulating education in Florida. The settlement can’t keep the peace forever.

Do you think that Disney will make a statement about this latest DeSantis bill? Tell us in the comments below!

The text of HB 1285 can be read here:

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