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Disney slams Florida for signing ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law

The Walt Disney Company has come out against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill after it was signed into law on Monday by the state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. The company has been beset with controversy from within as its left-leaning workers staged a walkout to protest management’s initial reluctance to denounce the measure while its conservative employees urged higher-ups to stay neutral on hot-button political issues. “Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” reads the statement from Disney, which posted the message on its corporate Twitter feed Monday. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.” The statement added: “We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.” Equality Florida, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, has vowed to wage a legal battle against the law. In recent weeks, Disney has been scrambling to contain the fallout over its response to the newly enacted legislation that would bar teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics like sexual orientation or gender identity with students unless they’re in the fourth grade or higher. The battle over Disney’s political leanings reaches as high as the C-suite, with current CEO Bob Chapek reportedly preferring to stay out of partisan debates — and chafing at interference from his progressive-minded predecessor, retired executive chairman Bob Iger. Disney attempted to stay out of the public debate over Florida’s law. But the situation intensified on Feb. 24, when Iger tweeted that he agreed with President Biden’s stance that it was a “hateful bill” — even as Chapek-led Disney declined to take a public stance. Chapek reportedly felt undermined by his predecessor. After days of mounting pressure from LGBTQ rights groups, Chapek broke his silence on the bill in an internal memo on March 7. He reiterated Disney’s “unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community,” but asserted that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds” and often divide the public further. Within days, Chapek apologized for failing to be a “stronger ally” — adding that Disney would pause all political donations in Florida and donate $5 million to LGBTQ rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign. Disney restored a same-sex kiss scene to Pixar’s upcoming feature film “Lightyear” — a reversal that came after the damning letter from Pixar employees. The company also held a “town hall”-style forum last week in a bid to ease tensions among its workforce. The measures appeared to have little effect — with some Disney employees reportedly going over Chapek’s head and complaining to Iger about how the company has responded to the Florida bill, CNBC reported.

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