Some LGBTQ Disney employees staged a walkout Tuesday in protest of the company’s “insufficient” response to Florida’s education bill which critics call the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.
While there were reportedly over 100 workers taking part in the walkout throughout different parts of the company, the overall turnout was not as massive as some might have expected.
The walkout at Orlando’s Walt Disney World was represented by one lone cast member who wore a rainbow flag and held up a sign reading “Trans rights are human rights” near the entrance to the park.
Turnout for the Disney employee walkouts was much higher at the company's corporate office in California than in Orlando.Here, lone protester Nicholas Maldonado held a sign saying, "trans rights are human rights" in front of Walt Disney World's entrance.https://t.co/OennW7jTXT— Katie Rice (@katievrice) March 22, 2022
Meanwhile, at Disney’s Burbank, California studio, the turnout was somewhat bigger – around 75 employees gathered across the street from the studio and held up signs, chanting: “Disney say gay, we won’t go away.”
The protesters have been pushing for Disney’s leadership, particularly CEO Bob Chapek, to do more to oppose Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which bans educators from teaching or discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, allowing parents to sue schools if they feel this policy had been violated. Critics of the bill, who call it the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, insist that it violates the basic human rights of the LGBTQ community and poses a threat to their lives.
According to the ‘Disney Do Better’ walkout group, the statements made by Disney’s leadership in response to the controversial bill “utterly failed to match the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety represented by this legislation.”
Chapek has since apologized to employees for his silence, saying he and Disney shareholders were “opposed to the bill from the outset,” but decided not to make any public statements, thinking they could “be more effective working behind the scenes.”
Disney has since paused political donations in Florida and is “increasing support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states.”