Disney employees plan to strike to demand action on the “Don’t Say Gay” law

LGBTQ employees and allied employees at The Walt Disney Company are planning a strike in protest of Florida’s proposed parental rights in education bill, dubbed by opponents the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Since Tuesday, March 15, some employees have been going out every day from 3:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. On Tuesday, March 22, protesters are planning a long walkout from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m

“The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) LGBTQIA+ community and its allies are determined to stand up against TWDC’s apathy in the face of the bigoted ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law proposed by the FL state legislature” , according to the protest website.

“The recent statements and lack of action by the TWDC leadership in relation to the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law have been utterly disproportionate to the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety posed by this legislation,” it said the site.

Opponents of the bill say it would shame and silence LGBTQ youth and could have serious negative consequences for their mental health.

The bill bans teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through third grade and would limit or prohibit what classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity in other grades unless they are “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate,” a threshold, which has been criticized as vague by opponents of the bill. It would also allow parents to sue schools that deal with these issues.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek has been criticized for his response to the law, first for his silence on the legislation and later for not directly condemning the law in his public statements.

Chapek has since said he would pledge $5 million to groups advocating for LGTBQ+ rights and protections, adding that he had contacted Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office to protest the bill . He also said political donations in Florida are on hold pending verification of their link with the law.

“We are working hard to create a new framework for our political giving that ensures our advocacy better reflects our values,” Chapek said in an email to Disney employees. “I am committed to this work and to all of you, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so I can become a better ally.”

Several Disney characters, including ESPN sports host Elle Duncan, have shown their support for the strikes during televised broadcasts.

ESPN employees also took part in the daily strikes, Duncan said. Duncan herself was silent for a moment during her broadcast in protest.

“We understand the gravity of this legislation and also how it affects so many families in this country and that is why our allies will come to the fore and with that we will pause in solidarity,” Duncan said.

ESPN’s Carolyn Peck and Courtney Lyle also remained silent for two minutes in solidarity with their peers during the women’s NCAA tournament.

“A threat to all human rights is a threat to all human rights,” Peck said on the March 18 broadcast.

In a list of demands posted on the protest website, organizers are demanding that Disney “immediately and indefinitely stop all campaign contributions” to politicians linked to the bill and “commit to an actionable plan” that protects employees from discriminatory practices laws could protect.

The organizers are also calling for the company to reaffirm its commitment to LGBTQ employees and communities, make contributions to human rights advocacy groups, and allocate spending and resources to investing in LGBTQ representation.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News and this network.

Copyright © 2022 ABC News Internet Ventures. Disney employees plan to strike to demand action on the “Don’t Say Gay” law

Dais Johnston

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