Disney CEO Bob Chapek has been facing internal pushback from employees over the company’s stance on a controversial Florida bill that restricts LGBTQ education in schools. After days of criticism from employees internally and on social media, Chapek announced Disney will pause all political donations in Florida.
According to Variety Chapek sent out an email to staff with a direct apology to the company’s LGBTQ employees. “Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was,” Chapek writes in the letter.
“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”
Florida legislature has passed a bill critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill as it prevents teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics. Teachers say this is dangerous for students who might come to them for advice on LGBTQ matters and leaves school districts vulnerable to lawsuits from parents who disagree with their curriculum.
Disney became caught in the matter when it was revealed that the company has donated close to $200,000 to Florida politicians who back the bill. Disney operates the Disney World theme park in Orlando, Florida, and as such is involved with the local politics of the state.
Employees who work across Disney, particularly in Disney Animation, have criticized the company for its political contributions and have used the hashtag #DisneyDoBetter to draw attention to the issue.
As part of his message to staff Chapek says that Disney is “creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values.” This statement follows recent remarks Chapek made at the Annual Shareholders Meeting where the CEO says he called Florida Gov. DeSantis to express his disappointment and concern over the legislation that “could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, nonbinary, and transgender kids and family.”
Here is the full letter as shared by Variety.
Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.
Image Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Author: Matt Kim.