Business & Lobbying

Disney CEO apologizes for silence on Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized for the company’s silence on Florida legislation that would limit discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in primary school settings, telling Disney employees, “I let you down.”

“Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was,” Chapek said in a statement on Friday

“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”

Chapek said that the company would be pausing political donations in Florida and further supporting efforts to fight against similar legislation being introduced elsewhere.

“Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values,” Chapek said.

“I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community. I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on—and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve,” the Disney executive added.

The remarks come after Chapek earlier this week wrote to Disney employees in an internal memo in which he reportedly addressed Disney’s silence over legislation that would restrict conversations between primary school teachers and students about gender identity and sexual orientation. That legislation now awaits Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) signature after being passed by the state legislature.

In the memo, Chapek defended the company’s lack of comment, reportedly telling employees the social positions of Disney “do very little to change outcomes or minds” and claimed they have been “weaponized.”

But the Disney executive later reversed his stance and told investors in a call that he had spoken with DeSantis about the bill, saying he expressed concerns over the legislation. 

DeSantis, however, brushed off Disney’s criticism, calling the company “woke.”

Tags Bob Chapek Disney Don't Say Gay Florida Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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