Disney Employees Walk Out in Response to Florida Anti-LGBTQ Bill Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he should have been a "stronger ally in the fight for equal rights."
Some Disney employees walked off the job on Tuesday in protest of the company's response to Florida's controversial Parental Rights in Education Law, which restricts discussion of gender and sexuality in schools.
Employees have urged Disney to stop making political donations to certain Florida politicians, including governor Ron DeSantis, and to back a plan to shield LGBTQIA+ staff from such legislations, among other demands, NPR reports. Disharmony within the company has continued to mount, and earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized for not taking a stand against the bill more quickly, admitting he should have been a "stronger ally in the fight for equal rights." He also said he called DeSantis to share his concerns about the bill and that Disney would reevaluate political donations in Florida, where Walt Disney World is located.
At a Monday town hall meeting, company executives informed employees that Chapek would take part in a "listening tour" in an attempt to alleviate concerns about the company's response to the bill, but for many employees, it was too little too late. According to CNBC field producer Steve Desaulniers, hundreds of employees marched out of the company's Burbank, Calif. headquarters Tuesday morning in a show of support that followed several smaller walkouts during their 15-minute breaks as they called for Disney to take a firmer position against what critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
Hundreds of Disney employees walking out at company HQ in Burbank #DisneyWalkout pic.twitter.com/n9QpNmAHIf— Steve Desaulniers (@steve_desaul) March 22, 2022
Supporters of the protest took to Twitter to express their solidarity.
With the Disney walkout participants. people gathered outside the Disney Animation Building in Burbank to protest the company's handling of the Florida bill. They're walking around the lot perimeter now pic.twitter.com/rfzonRdJtf— Ryan Faughnder (@RFaughnder) March 22, 2022
Employees also turned to the platform to spread the word, with some pointing out the impact that Disney's relocation of thousands of employees to Florida would have on those employees and their families.
me & my entire Disney subsidiary writers room are walking out today. Half of us are LBGTQ+. All are not happy Disney gave $300K to supporters of the "Don't Say Gay" bill & are now forcing 1000s of employees to relocate to a state that doesn't protect them/their kids #DisneySayGay pic.twitter.com/Y0hrBfy9Tt— Claire "Keech" Kiechel (@clairekiechel) March 22, 2022
As the walkout unfolded, Disney Parks posted a statement of support (echoing Walt Disney's speech on the park's opening day in 1955) on its Instagram page, saying, "To ALL who come to this happy place, welcome. Disney Parks, Experiences and Products is committed to creating experiences that support family values for every family, and will not stand for discrimination in any form."
Disney brand ESPN also displayed its solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community.
ESPN believes in inclusivity and denounces legislation and actions across the United States that infringe on any human rights. We stand with our LGBTQIA+ colleagues, friends, families, and fans.— ESPN (@espn) March 22, 2022
Florida's Republican-controlled Senate and House have passed the legislation, and to become law, it needs the signature of DeSantis, who has expressed his support and called Disney a "woke" corporation for its opposition to it.