Facing Backlash, Disney CEO Publicly Opposes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Facing Backlash, Disney CEO Publicly Opposes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill
Disney/Image Group LA

Sign up for dot.LA’s daily newsletter for the latest news on Southern California’s tech, startup and venture capital scene.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek on Wednesday publicly opposed Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, days after the media giant began facing harsh criticism for Chapek’s noncommittal stance on the anti-LGBTQ legislation and for donating to lawmakers who supported the bill.

During the Burbank-based company’s annual shareholder meeting, Chapek claimed that Disney “opposed the bill from the outset,” but chose to lobby lawmakers behind the scenes instead of speaking out against the proposed law.


“I understand our original approach, no matter how well intended, didn't quite get the job done,” Chapek said. “But we’re committed to supporting the [LGBTQ] community going forward.”

The CEO said he planned to meet with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about the bill and that Disney would donate $5 million to advocacy groups working to protect LGBTQ rights, including the Human Rights Campaign. Disney is also “reassessing” its approach to advocacy and political donations, Chapek added.

The Florida bill—officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill—would forbid public schools from teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. The state’s Republican-controlled legislature approved the proposal and sent it to DeSantis, a Republican who is expected to sign it into law despite a wave of criticism that it would further marginalize LGBTQ students.

Disney—a major employer in Florida through its Walt Disney World theme park and resort in Orlando—took heat for declining to comment on the bill ahead of its passage on Tuesday, and for financially backing some of the lawmakers who voted for its passage. On Monday, Chapek wrote a memo to staff that said corporate statements “do very little to change outcomes or minds.” He added: “I do not want anyone to mistake a lack of a statement for a lack of support.”

That decision frustrated many Disney employees and activists alike. The Animation Guild, which represents some Disney staffers, criticized the company for remaining silent while Florida passed “homophobic legislaton.”

“It is disheartening that Disney, one of the world’s most successful brands with massive resources and a global platform, failed to take any action to help prevent the passage of this bill,” the group said.

On Wednesday, Chapek claimed the company did make an effort behind closed doors.

“We were hopeful that our longstanding relationship with those lawmakers would enable us to achieve a better outcome,” he said. “But despite weeks of effort, we were ultimately unsuccessful.”

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Riot Games Doubles Down on Mobile With ‘Aim Lab’ Investment

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Samson is also a proud member of the Transgender Journalists Association. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

Riot Games Doubles Down on Mobile With ‘Aim Lab’ Investment
Image from Aim Lab

Riot Games has invested in virtual shooting range developer Statespace, accelerating the Los Angeles video game publisher’s efforts to dominate the mobile gaming space.

Read more Show less
https://twitter.com/samsonamore
samsonamore@dot.la

Meet Surf Air Mobility, the Startup Trying To Electrify Air Travel

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Samson is also a proud member of the Transgender Journalists Association. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

Meet Surf Air Mobility, the Startup Trying To Electrify Air Travel
Courtesy of Surf Air Mobility

The airline industry is a notoriously terrible polluter, with large carriers struggling to find ways to limit the more than 915 million tons of carbon emissions produced by their industry each year.

Read more Show less
https://twitter.com/samsonamore
samsonamore@dot.la

Ranavat’s Founder on How Pregnancy and Ayurveda Inspired Her to Start Her Skincare Company

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Michelle Ranavat
Photo credit: Grey and Elle

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Michelle Ranavat talks about how pregnancy and traditional ayurvedic remedies inspired her to start her skincare company, and how she grew it without relying on outside funding.

Read more Show less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending