As Disney employees continue to criticize the company for not coming out strong enough against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is lashing out at the House of Mouse for speaking out against it.
DeSantis – who has repeatedly expressed anti-LGBTQ views – signed the bill on Monday, officially banning elementary school teachers from mentioning LGBTQ people in classes.
Related: Students walk out after school board bans them from flying the Pride flag
That same day, Disney released a statement saying the bill “should never have passed and should never have been signed into law” and that the company’s goal “is for the law to be repealed by the Legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
Statement from The Walt Disney Company on signing of Florida legislation: pic.twitter.com/UVI7Ko3aKS
— Walt Disney Company (@WaltDisneyCo) March 28, 2022
At a press conference Tuesday, DeSantis claimed this went against everything Disney believed.
“If this was such an affront, why weren’t they speaking up at the outset? For them to say they’re going to actively work to repeal substantive protections for parents, as a company that is supposedly marketing its services to parents with young children, I think they crossed the line.”
He also accused Disney’s statement of being “fundamentally dishonest” and declared that California corporate executives aren’t in charge.
“They do not run this state, they do not control this state,” he said.
The state of Florida is governed according to the interests of the people, not according to the political posturing of corporate executives in California.
We will never allow corporate influence to repeal the substantive rights of parents in our state. pic.twitter.com/vEDEKekcaH
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 29, 2022
In the meantime, Disney employees have continued to speak out against the company for how long it took leadership to take a stand against the bill in the first place.
The controversy began when it was revealed that Disney had donated money to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill’s main sponsors. In addition, CEO Bob Chapek initially refused to publicly condemn the measure. He wrote that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds” and “are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.” Instead, he highlighted the company’s commitment to telling diverse stories.
Chapek then said he would meet DeSantis to discuss somehow preventing the bill from being weaponized against LGBTQ people. In response, DeSantis said that he refused to bow down to “woke corporations” and released a video accusing LGBTQ people of trying to “inject transgenderism into kindergarten.”
Trying to do damage control, Disney said it would donate $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other LGBTQ rights organizations. HRC rejected its donation and said Disney needed to take more direct action to combat the bill.
Soon after, employees at Pixar claimed that Disney censors LGBTQ content and that executives had cut every attempt to show same-sex affection or LGBTQ characters.
Chapek eventually apologized to employees for not denouncing the bill, and has clearly taken a stronger stance against it. But for many, it’s simply too late.
Employees took part in a “full-scale walkout” last week to protest Disney’s lackluster response.