The bill is supported by state politicians that Disney has funded.
If signed into law, HB 1557l would ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation completely in kindergarten through third grade. Educators would be restricted from teaching about these subjects “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” The bill dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by its opponents, would also allow parents to sue schools or teachers that engage in these topics.
Some of the language in this bill is worryingly broad. It could create an unsafe environment for students to come out to teachers, counselors, or even other students. Teachers may be required to report this information to parents, meaning students could face ramifications at home.
A Hateful Bill
Former Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger tweeted his support of President Joe Biden’s statement on the bill. “I’m with the President on this,” Iger said. “If passed, this bill will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy.” The President labeled the bill as “hateful,” and vowed to protect LGBTQI+ folks.
I’m with the President on this! If passed, this bill will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy. https://t.co/fJZBzre4yM
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) February 25, 2022
All of this comes in the midst of a wave of criticism against Disney for continuing to fund the very politicians that support the bill. “Why has [Disney] not made a public condemnation of this law?” one user wrote in response to Iger. “Make a phone call to Bob Chapek, Disney needs to put its weight against this bill,” another wrote.
Silence From Chapek
Bob Chapek, the current CEO of the Walt Disney Company, has been notably silent on this bill. According to Geoff Morrell, Disney’s chief corporate affairs officer, Chapek “does not bring any partisan agenda to work.” Morrell is also a former George W. Bush appointee to the Defense Department. Instead, Disney seems intent to handle this issue, and others like it, through internal dialogue.
A recent statement from Disney, and an apparent response to the current controversy, did little to assuage critics. “We understand how important this issue is to our LGBTQ+ employees and many others,” said the statement. “The biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce.” The statement, released by Good Morning America, received heavy criticism on Twitter.
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
“Not sure how this is a “response” to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill since the statement doesn’t even mention the bill,” said journalist, lawyer, and political staffer Judd Legum. “Nor does it address the fact that Disney had contributed money to the bill’s sponsors.”
Not sure how this is a “response” to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill since the statement doesn’t even mention the bill.
Nor does it address the fact that Disney had contributed money to the bill’s sponsors. https://t.co/9BXYRzr4tW
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 4, 2022
A Legacy of Inaction
Meanwhile, Producer and documentary filmmaker Abigail Disney spoke out against her family’s legacy in response to the uproar. “I could not be more unhappy with [Disney’s] political activities, both in terms of whom they fund and how they lobby,” said Disney. Disney said she would “strongly support a law to require all corporations to reveal ALL of their funding and lobbying moves.”
I could not be more unhappy with their political activities, both in terms of whom they fund and how they lobby. I would strongly support a law to require all corporations to reveal ALL of their funding and lobbying moves. https://t.co/TGLOO0woRw
— Abigail Disney (@abigaildisney) March 2, 2022
As it stands, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill is set to go to a full floor vote in the Senate next week. If it passes there, it will end up on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. DeSantis said he supports the bill though has yet to explicitly state his intent to sign it.