Disney Employees Walked Out Protesting Company’s Response To ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill
Hundred of Disney workers walked off from their jobs on Tuesday in collective protest of the company and CEO’s meager response to the Parental Rights in Education bill, a new bill in Florida that seeks to censor discussions about gender and sexuality in schools, which has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The bill has passed in both the Florida House and Senate, and just requires the signature of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has indicated support of the bill, to become law. Disney CEO Bob Chapek said to shareholders when news around the bill was first circulating that they were “opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind the scenes.”
Employees were galvanized by this response and lambasted company leadership in an open letter released last week. They began by saying Disney is guilty of a “lack of compassion and advocacy” and called on the company to “indefinitely cease all campaign donations to these politicians involved in the creation or passage of the ‘don’t say gay,’ bill.”
Other demands in the letter included that Disney does not require any employees have to move to office locations in Florida, take responsibility for their past inaction on the issue, and expand their LGBTQ+ content beyond “subpar representation in the content produced.”
Chapek is apparently embarking on a “listening tour” for employees to fully understand their concerns, and also held a company-wide town hall on Monday where he expressed regret again. He had already announced a pause on donations to Florida politicians, but the letter responded to that by requesting a permanent band on donations.
So far, Chapek hasn’t responded to all of the demands of the employee’s open letter. Along with the donations pause, and a $5 million donation to the Human Rights Campaign that was rejected, Chapek has also committed to the creation of a task force that will be in charge of developing strategies for LGBTQ content and political initiatives. It would also be an open forum for LGBTQ employees and community members to get involved.
It remains to be seen what further actions the Disney employees have planned up ahead, as it doesn’t seem like Chapek’s commitments so far have been satisfactory enough to halt them.