The Walt Disney Company is under fire for its actions and statements following Florida’s recently passed “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and while Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently shared an updated statement on the matter his promises so far have not been made. In Chapek’s most recent statement regarding the controversial bill, the CEO shared that he was in talks with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to discuss the bill, and that the Walt Disney Company would be making a $5 million donation to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Last night, the HRC confirmed Disney’s effort to make the financial donation, and a spokesperson for the organization confirmed that the HRC had refused to accept the funds.
The HRC released a full press release on the intent to donate by the Walt Disney Company, and Joni Madison, Interim President of Human Rights Campaign issued the following statement:
The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill, don’t become dangerous laws, and if they do, to work to get them off the books. Businesses have had and continue to have a major impact in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, from marriage equality to the defeat of House Bill 2 in North Carolina and beyond. While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida — including hardworking families employed by Disney — today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step.
“HRC encourages Disney, and all employers, to continue to fight for their employees – many of whom bravely spoke out to say their CEO’s silence was unacceptable – and the LGBTQ+ community by working with us and state and local LGBTQ+ groups to ensure these dangerous anti-equality proposals that harm LGBTQ+ families and kids have no place in Florida. Every student deserves to be seen, and every student deserves an education that prepares them for health and success — regardless of who they are. This should be the beginning of Disney’s advocacy efforts rather than the end.
Many Disney fans, Cast Members, and a mix of shareholders agree that the Walt Disney Company’s position to remain silent on the matter, or as Chapek shared during yesterday’s shareholder meeting to work with politicians on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community ‘behind the scenes,’ was the entirely wrong approach to take with the matter and that all of this fallout could have been avoided if the company took an active stance in opposing the bill in the first place.
During yesterday’s shareholder meeting, Chapek also shared that he had spoken to DeSantis and that while as a shareholder pointed out, the Governor was not looking to rescind the bill, Chapek hoped the company could work with the state government to share insight on how the bill could be harmful. Chapek reported feeling optimistic following his brief conversation with the Governor’s office, and he told shareholders on the call that his next step would be to meet the Governor with a small delegation of Cast Members to discuss the bill.
Governor DeSantis’ office also shared a statement following Chapek’s call yesterday:
Disney contacted our office today to speak with the Governor. This is the first time we have heard from Disney regarding HB 1557. The Governor did not take the call from Mr. Chapek. The Governor’s position has not changed. No in-person meeting has been scheduled yet.
Disney is a family-friendly company that creates wholesome entertainment for kids. The same Florida parents who take their families to Disney also support parental rights in education, because they do not want their young children exposed to inappropriate content about sex and gender theory at school.
This should not be controversial.
Disney has not commented on the statement released from the DeSantis administration, however, the company did release the following statement in response to the HRC’s refusal to accept funding:
We signed the HRC’s national business statement opposing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and pledged to financially support their efforts, and while we are surprised and disappointed that they will not take our financial support at this time, we remain committed to meaningful action to combat legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community.