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Pixar staff fume over Disney’s ‘hollow’ claims of support for the LGBTQ community

Bob Chapek’s performance at Disney’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday is getting panned by Pixar employees and LGBTQ advocacy groups alike for not taking action against Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Employees at Pixar, Disney’s animated studio known for “Toy Story” and “Up,” circulated a letter after the shareholders meeting, demanding that the Mouse House stop funding politicians who support the bill. The Human Rights Campaign, meanwhile, said it will refuse a $5 million donation pledged by Chapek on Wednesday until Disney “builds” on its “public commitment” and works with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure such proposals “don’t become dangerous laws.” Disney has been taking heat in the last two weeks over staying silent about the bill under consideration by the Florida Legislature, which would ban teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics like sexual orientation or gender identity with students until after third grade. On Wednesday, Chapek said Disney has been fighting the bill “behind the scenes” to no avail. The CEO plans to meet with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and LGBTQ execs from Disney to discuss their concerns. In a memo to staff Monday, Chapek said Disney “unequivocally supports” the LGBTQ+ community and that it effects change through its inclusive storytelling and culture. But a letter signed by “The LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar and their allies” took Chapek to task over those claims, Variety said. “Monday’s email, ‘Our Unwavering Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community,’ rang hollow,” the letter said. It explained that Chapek’s memo “began with the claim that Disney has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, but Disney Parks did not officially host Pride until 2019, in Paris alone. Disney has a history of shutting down fan-created Pride events in the parks, even removing same-sex couples for dancing together in the 1980s.” Inclusive storylines in Pixar flicks have been “shaved down to crumbs” by Disney execs, the letter claims. “Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar,” the letter said. “Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it. Beyond the ‘inspiring content’ that we aren’t even allowed to create, we require action.” After the shareholders meeting, chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content Peter Rice told The Hollywood Reporter that “the law is a new and painful iteration of a history of discrimination against an already vulnerable group.” “Personally, I see this law as a violation of fundamental human rights, and I condemn any attempt to marginalize individuals on the basis of their identity,” he continued. “I appreciate that Bob recognized that we must do more to support the LGBTQ+ community.” Late last week, DeSantis defended the bill. He said it wasn’t about discrimination, but instead is meant to ensure there’s no “sexual instruction” given to young students. “When you actually look at the bill and it says ‘no sexual instruction to kids pre-K through three,’ how many parents want their kids to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction?” DeSantis said, according to a CBS News report. “It’s basically saying for our younger students, do you really want them being taught about sex? And this is any sexual stuff,” he said. “But I think clearly right now, we see a focus on transgenderism, telling kids they may be able to pick genders and all of that.”

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