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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law, the bill which threw The Walt Disney Co. into chaos earlier this month, after employees demanded the company speak out against the bill.
On Monday, Disney condemned the signing in a statement.
“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” a Disney spokesperson said. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”
Officially titled the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, it limits open discussion of sexuality and gender identity in schools, with provisions allowing parents to sue if they allege schools or instructors have been in violation. The vague nature of the bill also opened the door to concerns that it could have a chilling effect beyond schools.
Disney had originally remained silent on the bill, with CEO Bob Chapek saying in a memo that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. … Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.”
He added that the company had tried to work to water down or oppose the bill behind the scenes, but that it was unable to bring about changes through that strategy.
After hearing pushback from employees, Chapek apologized to employees, telling them, “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”
Chapek added that the company would pause political donations in Florida, and would fight legislation in other states.
Disney employees would go on to hold a walkout on March 22 in solidarity with their colleagues in Florida.
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