After weeks of criticism surrounding the Walt Disney Company’s lack of condemnation to the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in Florida, CEO Bob Chapek announced in a company email on Friday that Disney will pause all political donations in the state during a restructuring of its political giving framework. Chapek also apologized to employees–“especially” those in the LGBTQ+ community–for the company’s handling of the fallout since the bill was up for consideration and eventually passed.
In response to colleagues who expressed their “pain, frustration, and sadness” over Disney’s response, Chapek said in an internal memo (via The Hollywood Reporter), “Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you has helped me better understand how painful our silence was. 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.”
Elsewhere in the memo, Chapek said Disney will pause all donations in Florida–and the company will also begin “increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states.” Chapek also affirmed “there is so much more work to be done.”
The bill, which bans teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity in public school for those in kindergarten through third grade–and possibly beyond that age depending on interpretation–has passed in both the Florida House and Senate. Although not yet law, it is expected to be signed by Governor DeSantis.
Throughout the week, Chapek has quickly changed his messaging with regards to Disney’s stance on the bill. On March 8, Chapek acknowledged the company’s silence so far and promised the issue would be discussed further at the company’s Reimagine Tomorrow Summit in April. On March 9, Chapek admitted its initial stance “didn’t get the job done.”
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