Disney says it supports gay rights with ‘inspiring content’ despite donating to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill backers

Disney entities made donations to chief sponsors of Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation

Annabel Nugent
Friday 04 March 2022 19:56 GMT
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Disney has issued a statement of support for the LGBTQ+ community despite it being revealed that the company donated sums of money to Florida Republicans supporting the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

Last year, at least three Disney entities gave the chief sponsors of Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation $4,000 (£3,021) combined for their 2022 re-election campaigns.

Officially titled the House Bill 1557, “Don’t Say Gay”, as it’s referred to by critics, has been condemned by democrats, parents and the White House, which has described the legislation as “hateful”.

If it becomes law, it will censor conversations about homosexuality and gender identity in Florida’s classrooms.

In a statement issued via Good Morning America, the Walt Disney Company stated: “We understand how important this issue is to our LGBTQ+ employees and many others.

“For nearly a century, Disney has been a unifying force that brings people together. We are determined that it remains a place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”

The statement continues: “The biggest impact we can have in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create here, and the diverse community organisations we support, including those representing the LGBTQ+ community.”

The current Disney CEO Bob Chapek is yet to make a personal statement beyond the official Disney company address.

With his on-screen alter-ego, ‘Frozen’’s Olaf
With his on-screen alter-ego, ‘Frozen’’s Olaf (Shutterstock/Featureflash Photo Agency)

The Senate sponsor for the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, Ocala Republican Dennis Baxley, has previously supported other anti-gay legislation.

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In 2013, he compared gay parents to drug abusers and abusive parents.

Baxley said: “I mean I sat an hour and a half with a teacher telling me, ‘Well this child has got serial men coming through the house, this one has two mummies, this one has an abusive father who’s home, this has alcoholism, this one has drug abuse.

“It was a casualty warfare event to hear – just her classroom – how many dysfunctional, atypical, to me, structures are in the way of a kid having a chance to learn.”

Baxley’s 2022 campaign received $1,000 (£756) from Disney Photo Imaging. In 2018, he received $1,000 (£756) each from Disney Vacation Development Inc and Disney Destinations LLC.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek
Disney CEO Bob Chapek (AP)

The news of Disney’s donations has attracted widespread backlash.

Producer and filmmaker Abigail Disney – who is the daughter of former Disney animation head Roy E. Disney and great-niece of Walt Disney – condemned the company’s financial backing of the bill on Twitter.

“I could not be more unhappy with their political activities, both in terms of whom they fund and how they lobby,” Disney wrote. “I would strongly support a law to require all corporations to reveal ALL of their funding and lobbying moves.”

Writer of Disney’s animated series Ducktales Benjamin Siemon wrote that he is “deeply saddened” by the company’s “silence when it comes to speaking out against the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill”.

The Independent has contacted a representative of Disney for comment.

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