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Disney brands slam Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill ahead of employee walkout

Disney’s various brands expressed “solidarity” with its employees and others speaking out against Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill on Tuesday — the same day that some of the Mouse House’s corporate workers plan to stage walkouts to protest the company’s response to the legislation. The entertainment giant’s latest attempt at damage control followed a mounting backlash from employees who say Disney CEO Bob Chapek and other top brass haven’t done enough to stop the GOP-backed bill, which bars Florida teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics like sexual orientation or gender identity with students in third grade or below. A group of “LGBTQIA+ workers and allies at The Walt Disney Company scheduled a series of walkouts during breaks this week to raise awareness regarding their concerns — followed by what they described as a “full walkout” on Tuesday. Disney’s corporate statements suggested the company would work to address their demands. “Disney Parks, Experience and Products is committed to creating experiences that support family values for every family, and will not stand for discrimination in any form,” the company said in a statement shared on the Instagram accounts for Walt Disney World and Disney Parks. “We oppose any legislation that infringes on basic human rights, and stand in solidarity and support our LGBTQIA+ cast, crew and Imagineers and fans who make their voices heard today and every day,” the statement added. A similar statement was posted on social media accounts for Disney+, the company’s flagship streaming service, and several other Disney-owned brands, including ESPN. ESPN believes in inclusivity and denounces legislation and actions across the United States that infringe on any human rights. We stand with our LGBTQIA+ colleagues, friends, families, and fans.— ESPN (@espn) March 22, 2022 The Disney employees organizing the walkout — who previously declared the company’s response to the legislation had forced them into “an impossible and unsustainable position” — said they approved of the company’s statements. The statements did not directly address the planned protests but were nevertheless taken as a sign that the company’s leadership was taking the pushback seriously. “We support these messages,” the employees said in a message posted to the @DisneyWalkout Twitter account. pic.twitter.com/aHUMnwYouD— Disney+ (@disneyplus) March 22, 2022 “They were tirelessly advocated for by our own LGBTQIA+ co-workers to show support today. It’s an act of magic and is a true marker of how far we’ve pushed.” It’s unclear how many Disney workers planned to participate in the walkouts. Union leaders for workers at Disney theme parks advised them not to participate because doing so could violate their contractual obligations. Organizers said they expected participation among non-unionized workers. Members of Disney’s key studios, including Pixar and Marvel, have been critical of Disney’s response. And their pressure campaign has already led to signs of change. Last week, a same-sex kiss was restored to Pixar’s upcoming feature film “Lightyear” following a letter from studio employees who accused Disney executives of censoring moments of “overtly gay affection” in their movies. In the same letter, the Pixar employees slammed Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s initial companywide memo touting the company’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community – stating that his words rang “hollow.” Chapek later apologized for his initial response, noting the company would donate $5 million to organizations to the Human Rights Campaign and cease political donations within the state of Florida. “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry,” Chapek told staffers. With Post wires

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