Ten members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek today, condemning what they say is Chapek’s “outspoken attack on Florida’s common-sense protections for children and parents”.
The letter, which was obtained by Fox News, details what the Republican lawmakers deem to be an overreach by a company that they say should be focused on making a profit, providing jobs, and offering quality services and products to customers. The letter is the latest escalation against Disney, which is also facing heat from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Florida lawmakers who are reexamining “special privileges” that Disney is afforded.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek originally wanted to keep Disney out of the public debate, signaling in an email to employees that Disney would not be denouncing the bill. On March 7th, Chapek sent a company-wide email saying that Disney would not denounce the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, but rather rely on its content to further causes of inclusion and diversity. The uproar on social media from Disney fans and Cast Members alike was immediate. Then, on March 9th, before a question and answer session was set to begin as part of a Disney shareholder webinar, Chapek made another statement on the controversial bill, this time saying that he would meet with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to discuss the bill.
In the same breath, Chapek said that the company would be donating $5 million to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a pledge that the HRC would refuse, essentially asking Disney to do more than just throw money at the Chapek-created problem. Disney was “surprised and disappointed” by the rejection of the donation.
Chapek decided to send another company-wide email on March 11th, just four days after he said that Disney would not denounce the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, this time apologizing for the lack of action and advocacy from Disney for the LGBTQIA+ community. By then, the gears were already in motion behind the scenes for a grassroots effort within The Walt Disney Company to plan a walkout over what organizers called “apathy” by Disney on the controversial bill. A day before the walkout was scheduled to take place, Chapek called a virtual town hall and postponed a planned executive retreat in favor of “listening tours”. On the same day as the walkout, a report was published that said that executives in Burbank did not listen to early pleas from the Disney Parks division to speak out against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
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