Respect Equality

Disney CEO now says he opposes Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, will meet DeSantis

Disney CEO Bob Chapek
AP/Chris Pizzello

Story at a glance

  • Chapek addressed the company’s lack of a statement on Tuesday.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has agreed to meet with Chapek and LGBTQ+ leaders from the company.
  • Disney had made political donations to Republicans and Democrats in Florida.

Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Chapek on Wednesday said that he opposes Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which limits discussions in schools about LGBTQ+ identities, a reversal of course on his prior neutral position, The Los Angeles Times reports.

He had faced immense backlash after previously saying he did not want Disney to become a “political football.”

His comments on Wednesday came during Disney’s annual shareholder meeting, according to the LA Times, where Chapek told shareholders that Disney was going to sign the Human Rights Campaign’s statement opposing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Chapek also said during the meeting that Disney had pledged $5 million to LGBTQ+ organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign.

The Disney CEO told the company’s investors that he called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) earlier in the day to discuss the bill and “express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, nonbinary and transgender kids and families,” the Times notes.


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Chapek said that DeSantis agreed to meet with him and a group of Disney LGBTQ+ leaders to discuss the bill and why it troubles them, the California outlet reports.

On Tuesday, Chapek addressed the company’s lack of public statement on the bill, officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, which would ban teachers in Florida from talking to younger students about LGBTQ+ topics that are not “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” 

Chapek said Tuesday that the company “unequivocally” stands with its LGBTQ+ employees, but that it would not be taking any public stances on the matter. 

“Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change,” Chapek said Tuesday, adding that he believes corporate statements “do very little to change outcomes or minds” and instead are “often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.” 

His previous comments and refusal to stand against the bill lead to widespread criticism, including by Disney animators, such as Dana Terrace, creator of the animated series “The Owl House,” who posted a video response on Twitter, noting that Disney has made political donations to many of the cosponsors of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.  

The entertainment company has made political donations to Republicans and Democrats in Florida.


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