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Disney CEO apologizes to LGBTQ employees after botched response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Disney CEO apologizes to LGBTQ employees after botched response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill
Anaheim, CA - June 02: Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company during the opening ceremony for Avengers Campus inside Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, CA, on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)Photo: MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Disney CEO Bob Chapek offered his apologies to the company’s LGBTQ employees after botching the corporate response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Chapek tried to keep the century-old company out of the controversy at first, insisting that the “inspiring” content they created should be a good enough statement against the GOP-led bigotry against LGBTQ people. Disney had donated to all of the Republican sponsors of the legislation.

Related link: Jen Psaki turns table on reporter trying to link Biden to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Amidst massive outcry, including public condemnation by many of the company’s biggest stars, producers, and content creators, Chapek adjusted course and announced that the company will donate $5 million to the LGBTQ rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The donation was rejected by the group, however, with the admonition that the company should actually do something to stop the bill from becoming law before trying to buy their way into good graces again.

And the hits have kept on coming with employees at Pixar claiming that Disney censors and executives had cut every attempt to show same-sex affection or LGBTQ characters.

While Chapek promised he would meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to discuss the bill, DeSantis has already shot down the idea. Instead, he accused the company of being in bed with communists in Russia and being part of a global conspiracy against Florida parents. DeSantis accused Disney of trying to force “transgenderism in kindergarten.”

“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” Chapek wrote to employees in his apology email. “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”

“We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values,” Chapek wrote. “And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review.”

He also promised to “engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally.”

“I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community,” he wrote. “I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on — and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.”

Full text of the email below:

To my fellow colleagues, but especially our LGBTQ+ community,

Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.

Our employees see the power of this great company as an opportunity to do good. I agree. Yes, we need to use our influence to promote that good by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all.

Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review. But, I know there is so much more work to be done. I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally. You will hear more about our progress in the coming weeks.

I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community. I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on—and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.

Bob

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