Disney now vows to help repeal Florida’s vile ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill: ‘It should never have passed’

LGBT+ Disney Animation staff and allies protest company's response to controversy over Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill

Disney is now “committed” to striking down Florida’s reviled ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill after it was signed into law by governor Ron DeSantis. 

DeSantis signed the controversial House Bill 1557, also known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, on Monday (28 March) despite waves of protest against the cruel legislation.

The bill would prohibit school staff or third parties from discussing LGBT+ topics with students in kindergarten and third grade classrooms with only “age-appropriate” instruction permitted for older children. 

The Walt Disney Company, one of the largest employers in Florida, condemned the bill in a statement on Twitter, saying it “never should have passed” or been signed into law. The company added it was now working with both national and state organisations to fight the legislation. 

“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organisations working to achieve that,” Disney wrote. 

“We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

Disney and its CEO Bob Chapek have faced fierce criticism for their slow response to the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and for not using their influence to stop the bill from advancing in Florida. The entertainment and media conglomerate was also met with backlash after news broke that it had donated to Republican lawmakers and state officials who supported the bill. 

Earlier this month, Disney suspended its political donations in Florida and Chapek apologised for letting staff down when they “needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights”

A group of LGBT+ Pixar employees penned a public letter denouncing the company’s slow response to the bill and arguing that Disney has a history of censoring queer representation in films

Many LGBT+ Disney employees and their supporters staged walkouts over the company’s lack of action. Several celebrities shared their support for the walkouts and have also condemned the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the reviled legislation “must be repealed” as the “existence of LGBTQ+ people across Florida is not up for debate”. She added that the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill restricts free speech and “flies in the face of one of our most sacred rights”. 

“We’re staring at a new reality where LGBTQ+ students may wonder if they’re allowed to even acknowledge their own sexuality or gender identity; a reality where young people with LGBTQ+ family members may be forced to remain silent while others can speak freely; a reality where LGBTQ+ school staff may be forbidden from so much as mentioning their loved ones,” Madison added. 

President Joe Biden released a statement on social media shortly after DeSantis signed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law. He promised that his administration will “continue to fight for dignity and opportunity for every student and family – in Florida and around the country”. 

“Every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in the classroom,” Biden said. “Our LGBTQI+ youth deserve to be affirmed and accepted just as they are.”