Mar 7, 2022 - Economy & Business

Disney CEO defends decision to not speak out against "Don't Say Gay" bill

Photo of Bob Chapek speaking into a mic
Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, at the opening ceremony for Avengers Campus in Anaheim, California on June 2, 2021. Photo: Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Disney CEO Bob Chapek defended the company's decision to refrain from speaking out publicly against Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill, but said the company supports the LGBTQ community, per a copy of an internal staff memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

Why it matters: Disney has faced backlash for remaining mum on the controversial bill, which would bar educators from speaking with students about LGBTQ+ topics that are not considered "age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate" among other things.

What he's saying: "I want to be crystal clear: I and the entire leadership team unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities," Chapek wrote in the memo to staff.

  • "And, we are committed to creating a more inclusive company—and world. I understand that the very need to reiterate that commitment means we still have more work to do."
  • Corporate statements, however, "do very little to change outcomes or minds," he added. "Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change."
  • "I do not want anyone to mistake a lack of a statement for a lack of support," he said. "We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world. Where we may differ is in the tactics to get there."
  • "And because this struggle is much bigger than any one bill in any one state, I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support."

Worth noting: The company previously said in a statement to Good Morning America that "[t]he biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce."

Go deeper