Don’t Say Gay: Disney’s Dilemma


Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg

Following Florida’s March 8, 2022 passage of the Parental Rights in Education Law, commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, there has been a lot of controversy regarding Disney’s stance on the issue.  Some people within the company support the bill or have stood silent, but many employees directly oppose it.  The law will take effect on July 1, 2022 if followed through with, but a raging conflict has risen within Disney, the state of Florida, and the nation. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill forbids discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and prohibits lessons on those topics in other grades unless they are “age appropriate.”  Parents may also file lawsuits for violations of the law.  What is “age appropriate” is arguably vague and thus subject to subjective interpretation.  For example, prohibiting instruction and discussion could mean eliminating books covering LGBTQ topics and preventing conversations about people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

On March 9, 2022, Bob Chaplek, the chief executive of Disney sent an internal email to all Disney employees in which he attempted to explain the company’s public silence on the situation. “While we’ve been strong supporters of the community for decades, I know that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill,” said Mr. Chapek, who made his remarks off camera during a virtual meeting. “We were opposed to the bill from the outset, and we chose not to take a public position because we felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”  On March 28th, after employees staged a walkout, Disney spoke out against the law stating its “goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts.”  Disney further announced that it would pause making campaign donations in Florida. This statement angered Florida’s governor calling for the revocation of the tax break that Disney receives to operate with great independence in the state. 

When influential companies like Disney are silent, people take notice. Disney’s reaction in the face of opposition from Governor DeSantis says a lot about Disney’s corporate character.  

Classrooms are essential for young students. Unfortunately, there are students that may come from homes where their identity is not welcome. Any child deserves to have a teacher to listen and support them in order to help guide them. Furthermore, if a student has family members or even parents who are members of the LGBTQ community, the child should not be expected to hide them in what should be a healthy, educational, and inclusive environment. I firmly believe that teachers should be trained to deal with these scenarios, instead of being censored.