Respect Equality

Disney employees stage walkouts over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

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Story at a glance

  • Disney employees this week and next week will stage a handful of walkouts to protest the company’s response to Florida’s controversial so-called Don’t Say Gay bill.
  • Virtual “break” walkouts from 3 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. will be staged through Monday leading up to a “full” walkout on March 22 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Disney’s response to the Florida bill has been largely criticized by employees and LGBTQ+ advocates, who say more meaningful action needs to be taken by one of Florida’s largest employers.

Disney employees this week are staging a number of walkouts to protest the company’s response to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which has been dubbed by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

In an open letter, organizers of the “Disney Do Better Walkout” demanded the company “regain the trust of the LGBTQIA+ community and employees” by taking more meaningful action against the bill, which seeks to restrict classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity in primary schools.

“The recent statements by The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) leadership regarding the Florida legislature’s recent ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bill have utterly failed to match the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety represented by this legislation,” walkout organizers wrote. 

“Primarily, those statements have indicated that leadership still does not truly understand the impact this legislation is having not only on Cast Members in the state of Florida, but on all members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the company and beyond.”

“Due to the lack of compassion and advocacy, TWDC’s LGBTQIA+ community and their allies are determined to take a stand via multiple direct actions, including both virtual and in-person protests,” organizers added.


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Disney and its CEO Bob Chapek have been criticized by employees and LGBTQ+ advocates for its bungled response to the Florida bill, which would also prevent public school teachers of all grade levels from addressing sexual orientation and gender identity in a manner that is not “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for their students.

Chapek, who remained largely silent on the legislation despite heading one of Florida’s largest employers, last week said he opposed the bill, though his statement came only after the bill was passed by the state legislature.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is expected to sign the bill into law. Should that happen, it will take effect July 1.

According to a walkout schedule posted to the website whereischapek.com, Disney employees from Tuesday to Monday will stage virtual “break” walkouts from 3 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. leading up to a “full” walkout on March 22 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Demonstration organizers said that while employees are protected during the 15-minute walkouts, the all-day walkout next Tuesday is “not a legally protected action,” and workers should take their “own situation into account before choosing to participate.”

Chapek late last week apologized to Disney employees for his and the company’s delayed response to the Florida bill, pledging to pause political donations in the state and increase company support for advocacy groups to “combat similar legislation in other states.”

Chapek also promised to donate $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign, which said it would not accept money from Disney until “meaningful action” has been taken.

Disney walkout organizers in their letter echoed that sentiment, calling on company leadership to take additional steps to address harmful anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Florida, including by making its pause in political donations to those connected to the bill more permanent.

“Our community will not sit silently while TWDC fails in its obligations to advocate for employees it claims to support with ‘unwavering commitment’, profits off our labor, and boasts of record profits it has used to fund politicians who legislate unsafe schools for our youth,” organizers wrote.

“The ongoing attempts to placate the LGBTQIA+ community with subpar representation in the content produced and donations to well-meaning organizations are simply not enough. You cannot fix this with educational seminars or token background characters – even organizations like HRC refuse your money until action is taken.”


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