Disney CEO Bob Chapek finally apologised to the company’s LGBTQ+ employees after the recent backlash.
Over the last few weeks, activists have condemned Florida and the state’s harmful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.
On 8 March, the horrific legislation passed in the Republican-led Senate by a vote of 22-17.
Under the proposed bill, “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” would be restricted in elementary schools.
With the bill headed to conservative governor Ron DeSantis, LGBTQ+ advocates have denounced the law, its political sponsors, and the companies backing the legislation.
One of the companies to come under fire was Disney – due to their silence and past donations to the bill’s sponsors.
On 7 March, Variety reported that Chapek sent out a company-wide letter in which he expressed “unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community”.
“In terms of our communities, we are and will continue to be a leader in supporting organisations that champion diversity,” part of it stated. “In 2021, we provided nearly $3 million to support the work of LGBTQ+ organisations. And, we have a long history of supporting important events like Pride parades.”
However, a few days after the internal email, Disney’s LGBTQ+ employees released an open letter accusing the company of censorship.
In response to the open letter, Chapek released another company-wide email on 11 March to apologise to Disney’s queer staff.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
He went on to say that the company would be “increasing their support” for advocacy groups that are fighting against “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,” he continued.
“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.”