Disney brands criticize Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law ahead of employee strike

Disney’s various brands on Tuesday expressed “solidarity” with their employees and others who opposed Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law — the same day some of Mouse House’s corporate employees plan to stage strikes to protest the company’s response to legislation.

The entertainment giant’s latest attempt at damage control followed mounting backlash from employees who say Disney CEO Bob Chapek and other top executives haven’t done enough to stop the GOP-backed law banning Florida teachers from discussing LGBTQ issues such as discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with students in third grade or below.

A group of “LGBTQIA+ employees and allies at The Walt Disney Company planned a series of strikes during breaks this week to raise awareness of their concerns – followed by what they described as a “full strike” on Tuesday.

Disney’s corporate statements indicated that the company would work to meet their demands.

Disney Parks Instagram post
Disney Parks was one of several businesses to release statements criticizing Florida’s bill.

“Disney Parks, Experience and Products strives to create experiences that support family values ​​for every family and does not stand for any form of discrimination,” the company said in a statement posted on the Instagram accounts of Walt Disney World and Disney Parks has been shared.

“We oppose any legislation that violates basic human rights and stand in solidarity and support to our LGBTQIA+ performers, crew, imaginers and fans who make their voices heard today and every day,” the statement added.

A similar statement was posted on the social media accounts of Disney+, the company’s flagship streaming service, and several other Disney-owned brands, including ESPN.

The Disney employees who organized the strike – who previously said the company’s response to the legislation had placed them in “an impossible and untenable position” – said they endorsed the company’s statements.

The comments did not directly address the planned protests, but were still taken as a sign that management was taking the pushback seriously.

“We support these messages,” the staff said in a message posted to the @DisneyWalkout Twitter account.

“They have been tirelessly endorsed by our own LGBTQIA+ staff to show their support today. It’s a magical act and a real indicator of how far we’ve come.”

It’s unclear how many Disney workers wanted to take part in the walkouts.

Union leaders for Disney theme park workers advised them not to attend because it could violate their contractual obligations.

Organizers said they expected participation from non-union workers.

Members of key Disney studios, including Pixar and Marvel, have criticized Disney’s response. And their print campaign has already shown signs of change.

Disney cast members
Disney cast member Nicholas Maldonado speaks to reporters while protesting the company’s stance on LGBTQ issues and taking part in a staff strike at Disney World on March 22, 2022.

Last week, a same-sex kiss was restored in Pixar’s upcoming feature film Lightyear after a letter from studio employees accused Disney executives of censoring moments of “overt gay affection” in their films.

In the same letter, Pixar employees slammed Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s first company-wide memo, which touted the company’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community – explaining that his words sounded “hollow.”

Chapek later apologized for his initial reaction, noting that the company would donate $5 million to human rights campaign organizations and halt political donations in the state of Florida.

“You needed me as a stronger ally in the fight for equality, and I failed you. I’m sorry,” Chapek told staff.

With postal wires Disney brands criticize Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law ahead of employee strike


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