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Disney Facing Blacklash with the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

todayMarch 11, 2022 6

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Disney Facing Blacklash with the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

By Hannah Dunbar


In Florida, a bill is currently in the final passage in the statehouse. This so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill will limit discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida schools. The proposal, dubbed by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is expected to pass the GOP-controlled legislature this week.


The bill, which is sponsored by Republican Rep. Joe Harding, states “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”


Neither “age appropriate” nor “developmentally appropriate” is defined in the legislation. The ambiguity is likely to silence any discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity throughout the Florida K-12 educational system. Any teacher who broaches these topics could open up their school to a lawsuit by parents.


The bill was approved by the Florida House on February 24. The Florida Senate passed the bill on Tuesday March 8, and it now goes to Governor Ron DeSantis’s desk. It’s the latest effort by Republican lawmakers to remove the teaching of LGBTQ+ issues from schools.


The Florida’s Senate bill reads, “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels,” according to the text.


Since this bill was introduced, it has received widespread criticism from the LGBTQ+ community.  United States President Joe Biden even deemed the bill as “hateful”.


Disney has remained silent throughout this process, which has upset many of their employees. Disney employees are showing their outrage over the company’s decision to not denounce this Florida bill. The company also has many employees who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.


According to the accountability news site ‘Popular Information’, “In the last two years, Disney has donated $197,162 to members of the Florida legislature that have already voted for the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation,” including two sponsors of the bill, Florida Represenative Joe Harding and state Senator Dennis Baxley.


Disney issued a statement to Good Morning America on March 3 last week in response to the protest by the LGBTQ+ community. Disney’s statement did not reference the “Don’t Say Gay” bill at all. Instead, the company asserted it should remain focused on producing “inspiring content” which could make the “biggest difference.”


On Monday March 7, Disney CEO Bob Chapek wrote in a memo to employees, “I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce and the diverse organizations we support.”


Chapek also stated, “I do not want anyone to mistake a lack of statement for a lack of support. We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world. Where we may differ is in the tactics to get there.”


Chapek also referenced in an email that Disney gave “nearly $3 million to support the work of LGBTQ+ organizations last year”.


On twitter, Ben Siemon, an actor and writer whose credits include Disney’s DuckTales, posted an impassioned video plea calling for Disney to say the bill is wrong.


“I am a LGBT animation writer at Disney and this is why I want the company I love to take a stand against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.” He included the hastags #DisneySayGay #DisneyDoBetter.


He gives credit to one of his middle school teachers for helping him understand that it was okay to be gay. If this bill passed in Florida, that would have never happened to him.


“I would’ve been left alone and scared. And LGBT kids are going to be left alone and scared and hurt by this bill,” said Siemon.


American Actor Matt Hoverman, responded to Siemon’s plea with: “I love working for Disney. And I am proud that Disney Junior got behind the character of Jonathan on Fancy Nancy, who has twice now been nominated for a GLAAD award. Disney, don’t get behind the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Take a stand against it.”


The animator and director of The Owl House, Dana Terrace joined in the protest. Terrace is taking action by conducting a livestream for charity on March 13 to organizations that support the LGBT youth.


“I’m fucking tired of making Disney look good so WHO’S READY FOR ANOTHER CHARITY LIVESTREAM MARCH 13th!!! #dontsaygay #disneydobetter” Terrace said in a Twitter post attached with a video.


“Working for this company has…made me so distraught,” Terrace says in the video. “I hate, I hate having moral quandaries about how I feed myself and how I support my loved ones.”


Many agree that the silence on Disney’s part is completely unacceptable and that they need to stand against this bill, especially for their LGBTQ+ employees and the sake of the future generation.

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