Updated Mar 9, 2022 - Economy

Disney CEO says company opposes "Don't Say Gay" bill

Bob Chapek

Bob Chapek in 2019. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Disney CEO Bob Chapek told attendees at the company's annual meeting of shareholders Wednesday that the company opposes Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill and "were opposed to the bill from the outset."

Why it matters: Disney has faced backlash for choosing to remain silent on the bill, which would prevent educators from talking to students about LGBTQ+ topics that are not considered "age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate."

What they're saying: "We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind-the-scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers—on both sides of the aisle," Chapek said at the meeting.

  • "But, despite weeks of effort, we were ultimately unsuccessful. I called [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary and transgender kids and families."
  • Chapek said that during their call, DeSantis agreed to meet with him and LGBTQ+ members of Disney's senior team in Florida.
  • "So today, we are signing the Human Rights Campaign’s statement opposing such legislative efforts around the country—and pledging $5 million towards organizations, including the HRC, working to protect LGBTQ+ rights," he said.

The bottom line: "The outcome in Florida was not what many of us were hoping for, especially our LGBTQ+ employees," Chapek said.

  • "Unfortunately, legislation targeting their communities is being considered in many other states, which means this fight will go on," he added.
  • "I understand our original approach — no matter how well-intended —didn’t quite get the job done."
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