Story at a glance
- Disney family member Charlee Corra has said they are transgender. The announcement comes on the heels of the company’s heavily criticized response to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which prevents educators from teaching their students about sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Charlee and their family have pledged to match up to $500,000 in donations to the Human Rights Campaign after the organization refused a $5 million donation from Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
- Roy P. Disney, Charlee’s stepfather, wrote in an email to the HRC that “equality matters” to his family.
A member of the Disney family has publicly come out as transgender amid the company’s chaotic response to Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education Law — known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law — and public feud with the state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, pledging to match hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group.
The HRC last month refused a $5 million donation from Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek, who has been criticized for fumbling the company’s response to the Florida law, which prevents primary school educators in the state from engaging in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Public school teachers through high school in Florida will also be barred from addressing those topics in a manner that is not “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for their students when the law takes effect this summer. The first legal challenge to the law was filed late last month by advocacy groups Equality Florida, Family Equality and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
In an appeal to the HRC obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Disney family member Roy P. Disney — the grandson of the company’s co-founder and great-nephew to Walt Disney — wrote, “Equality matters deeply to us, especially because our child, Charlee, is transgender and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
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Roy Disney, along with his wife, Sheri Disney, and their two children, announced last week that the family would be matching up to $500,000 in donations to the HRC. Charlee Corra, who came out to their family as transgender four years ago, had announced at the organization’s annual dinner in Los Angeles last month that the family would be matching up to $250,000 in donations.
“I feel like I don’t do very much to help,” Corra, a high school biology and environmental science teacher, told the LA Times in an interview last week. “I don’t call senators or take action. I felt like I could be doing more.”
Speaking to the LA Times alongside her child, Sheri Disney said she had been disappointed by the company’s lukewarm response to the Florida law. Chapek had initially told Disney employees that the company, which is one of Florida’s largest employers, would not be coming out publicly against the then-bill, claiming that corporate statements don’t really affect political outcomes and are often “weaponized by one side or the other.”
The Disney CEO after pushback from employees eventually said he opposed the measure, though his statement came only after the bill had been passed by the state legislature. DeSantis signed the bill into law on March 28.
Corra told the LA Times that they had identified as gay for years before they came out as transgender.
“I had very few openly gay role models,” they said. “And I certainly didn’t have any trans or nonbinary role models. I didn’t see myself reflected in anyone, and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me.”
Corra added that legislation like “Don’t Say Gay” in Florida will only make life more difficult for trans young people, who already face high rates of depression and suicidality.
“Then to put something like this law on top of that?,” they said. “They can’t learn about their community and their history at school, or play sports or use the bathroom they want to use?”
But Corra, at least at home, seems to have the love and support of those who matter most.
“I have a trans kid, and I love my kid no matter what,” Sheri Disney told the LA Times.
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