Disney Cuts GOP Donations in Florida Amid Stand-Off With DeSantis Over 'Don't Say Gay' Bill
© AP Photo / John RaouxIn this Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 photo, a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse is seen in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Florida tourism officials say cases of the new coronavirus are having little visible impact on the theme park industry so far.
© AP Photo / John Raoux
Florida's HB 1557, or “Parental Rights in Education”, or, more commonly, "Don't Say Gay" bill has made waves because of its push for schools to ban the discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Walt Disney Company has halted political donations to the Republican Party in Florida following controversy over the GOP governor's "Don't Say Gay" bill, despite previously expressing its reluctance to engage in what it deems "political football".
On Friday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek released a statement apologising for his company's earlier "silence" over the controversial bill.
"It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights," the Disney CEO's statement reads. "You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry."
Disney earlier faced significant backlash over its reluctance to weigh in on the "Don't Say Gay" legislation. Now, the company is “reviewing” political donations in Florida - a state where over 80% of Disney's donations since 2020 have gone to the GOP.
The "Don't Say Gay" bill, which passed the Republican-controlled Florida state House in late February, is endorsed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who is not fond of Disney's egalitarian stance.
“Disney is in far too deep with the Communist party of China and has lost any moral authority to tell you what to do," DeSantis declared in a campaign fundraising email to his support base.
The Republican lawmaker added, "Our policies got to be based on the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musing of woke corporations.”
Disney is not alone in criticising the controversial Republican-led Florida bill. The "Don't Say Gay" legislation received its nickname after activists noted that such a law would infringe on LGBTQ+ rights by prohibiting any mention or discussion of gender identity and sexuality in the classroom.
The White House also blasted the bill as a "legislation designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids." According to the narrative of Florida conservatives, including DeSantis, the phrase "Don't Say Gay" is a false identifier, as the legislation only calls to ban discussion of gender identity and sexuality for grades pre-K to the third grade.
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