Disney CEO won’t speak out against Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
Photo: Image Group LA/Disney/Getty Images
After doubling down on Disney’s decision not to speak out against Florida’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in an internal memo, the Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek backtracked. Speaking at a shareholder meeting on Wednesday, March 9 — the day after the bill passed the Florida Senate — Chapek took a public stance on the bill, announcing plans to meet Governor Ron DeSantis to discuss his concerns and pledging $5 million to human rights. Campaign and other LGBTQIA+ advocacy organizations.
“The Governor heard our concerns and agreed to meet with me and the LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address them,” the CEO said. The statement surprised many, including Disney employees, who on Monday, March 7, received an internal memo from Chapek insisting that the company would take no position on the bill. Here’s what you need to know.
This foray into politics is new for Chapek, who was forced to respond earlier this week after reports surfaced that Disney gave money to Florida lawmakers backing the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. . “I and the entire leadership team unequivocally support our LGBTQ+ employees, their families and their communities,” Chapek wrote in the memo to disney employeesby The Hollywood Reporter. “And we are committed to creating a more inclusive business and world.” Why, then, has Disney given money to politicians who support the bill, which could potentially have the effect of banning all discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools? public? Chapek didn’t say, although he did note that Disney is giving to Republican and Democratic lawmakers and that he and Disney’s new director of general affairs, Geoff Morrell, would “reassess our advocacy strategies around the world, including the political donations.
Chapek also claimed that Disney gave to politicians on both sides of the aisle, but monetary donations were only part of the problem for Disney employees. After the bill passed the Florida House of Representatives on Feb. 25, employees and consumers alike wondered why Disney refused to make an official statement about the bill. Last week, The Hollywood Reporter sources quoted as saying Chapek intended to remain silent on all political issues and had previously declined to make a statement on voting rights. At the time, Morrell told the magazine, “He thinks the best way to help create a more inclusive world is to use the inspiring content we produce.”
Chapek doubled down on that reasoning in his Monday memo, saying he saw no point in issuing a statement that could be used to “further divide and inflame,” adding that he considers the best plan to Disney’s action is to continue to broadcast varied content. The CEO specifically cited Encanto, Black Panther, Pose, coconut, Shang Chi, modern familyand Love, Victor as examples of “miscellaneous stories” which he claimed acted as “corporate statements”. He went on to call them “more powerful than any tweet or lobbying effort”.
Following an overwhelmingly negative response to the memo – both within Disney and outside the organization – Chapek changed your tone on Wednesday. After announcing his intention to meet with DeSantis to discuss the bill, he told shareholders, “Governor DeSantis made a commitment to me that he would want to ensure that this law could not be weaponized in any way by individuals of the state or state groups to improperly harm or target gay, lesbian, non-binary, or transgender children and families.
However, shortly after Chapek’s new quotes were released, DeSantis publicist Christina Pushaw pushed back, saying they had just received a call from Disney on Wednesday. “This is the first time we’ve heard from Disney regarding HB 11557,” Pushaw said in a statement, confirming that the governor did indeed speak with Chapek. “The governor’s position has not changed. No in-person meeting has yet been scheduled.