Disney CEO addresses employee backlash over the company’s silence on Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill

Disney CEO Bob Chapek sent a lengthy email to employees defending the company’s silence on the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

The corporation has not issued any public statements condemning the legislation, which would censor conversations about homosexuality and gender identity in Florida’s classrooms if it became law.

The bill has been condemned by democrats, parents and the White House, which has described the legislation as “hateful”.

Many Disney fans and employees have criticised the company over their unwillingness to condemn the bill, especially given the corporation’s significant presence in the state.

As per Los Angeles Times, Chapek issued a memo to staff explaining the corporation’s stance.

He said that he met on Friday (4 March) with a “small group of Disney LGBTQ+ leaders” for a conversation, during which employees expressed “disappointment” at the company’s lack of a public statement.

Chapek said the meeting was “meaningful, illuminating, and at times deeply moving”, but did not say Disney would be changing its stance.

The CEO attempted to justify Disney’s reticence on the subject by saying that corporate statements “do very little to change outcomes or minds” and that they are “often weaponised by one side or the other to further divide and inflame”.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s total compensation almost doubled in 2021 (Richard Drew/AP) (AP)
Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s total compensation almost doubled in 2021 (Richard Drew/AP) (AP)

Chapek continued: “Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change,” referring to Disney’s films and its financial support of LGBTQ+ organisations.

He also addressed the controversy surrounding the company’s political contributions in Florida.

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.

Chapek wrote that Disney’s new chief of corporate affairs officer, Geoff Morrell, would be “reassessing our advocacy strategies around the world – including political giving”.

News of the CEO’s memo, however, has been met with criticism online.

Dana Terrace, the creator of Disney’s The Owl House, condemned the letter for using “flowery and compassionate words to shut you up” while the company donates to politicians who back anti-gay legislation.

Animation writer Benjamin Siemon said that while he “loves working” for Disney, the company “really hurt the LGBTQ+ community today”.

The Independent has contacted a representative of Disney for comment.