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

Diankha Linear on How Community Is Revolutionizing Text Marketing

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

​Diankha Linear
Diankha Linear

On this episode of Office Hours, Community CEO Diankha Linear joins host Spencer Rascoff to discuss her foray into the startup world and the strategic approaching to scaling up.

Read moreShow less
https://twitter.com/spencerrascoff
https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencerrascoff/
admin@dot.la

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Dreamscape, LinQuest and PetDX Gain New CEOs

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Dreamscape, LinQuest and PetDX Gain New CEOs

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

***

Read moreShow less

This Week in ‘Raises’: ADARx Pharmaceuticals Lands $46M, PLAI Labs Scores $32M

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in ‘Raises’: ADARx Pharmaceuticals Lands $46M, PLAI Labs Scores $32M
This Week in ‘Raises’: ContractSafe Inks $27.5M, Deal Box Collects $125M

A local RNA base-editing platform raised fresh funding to advance its drug development pipeline, while a local Web3 company founded by former MySpace and Jam City founders Chris DeWolfe and Aber Whitcomb scored funding to build out an artificial intelligence backed by generative AI that allows users to create and upload their own digital assets to the game.

***

Read moreShow less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending