President Joe Biden has condemned Republicans for targeting Disney over its opposition to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.
The legislation, which is officially called the Parental Rights in Education bill, states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through [third grade]” or “in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards” in other grades.
It was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, on 28 March in a staged ceremony which saw him surrounded by a group of children, some of which held signs saying “protect children, support parents”.
Disney came under fire for initially remaining neutral on the bill, but has since condemned it several times – as well as promising to join the fight against it.
The Florida Legislature has since passed a bill seeking to strip Disney of its special district permissions that allow it to self-govern its operations at Disney World – something that is typically the responsibility of local municipalities.
“I would say any special privileges that are in law I would like to get rid of generally,” DeSantis said.
The legislation only affects Disney, despite there being more than 1,800 special districts created within Florida.
Every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in the classroom. Our LGBTQI+ youth deserve to be affirmed and accepted just as they are. My Administration will continue to fight for dignity and opportunity for every student and family — in Florida and around the country.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 28, 2022
Speaking at a Democratic National Committee Fundraiser on 21 April, President Biden said: “This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different deal. Not a joke. Not a joke. And it’s not just Trump, it’s the MAGA crowd. It’s all about things that have nothing to do with traditional, conservative doctrine.”
He then directly criticised the move to punish Disney for taking a stance on ‘Don’t Say Gay’, stating that there is “nothing conservative” about how Republicans are reacting.
“I respect conservatives,” President Biden explained. “There’s nothing conservative about deciding you’re going to throw Disney out of its present posture because — Mickey Mouse? In fact, do you think we should be not be able to say, you know, ‘gay’?
“I mean, what’s going on here? What the hell is going on? And it’s just — so, I don’t believe it’s who the vast majority of American people are.”
It is estimated that Disney’s theme parks and supporting services bring in an estimated $75 billion (£58.9 billion) of revenue to central Florida each year.