ACTIVISM

Disney Employees And Celebrities Protest “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

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IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION – Advocates march at a rally at the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Fla., spearheaded by advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) on Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. The advocates targeted Disney in two near-simultaneous rallies in Orlando and Burbank, Calif., to urge Disney to publicly speak out to oppose Florida’s hateful, homophobic “Don’t Say Gay” bill targeting LGBTQ+youth, their families, teachers, and school counselors that is currently pending in the Florida legislature. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)

On the 22nd of March 2022, employees of Disney staged a full-scale walkout to protest their company’s response to the controversial Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which was passed on the 8th of March. It has been placed to restrict discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary school classrooms. Many celebrities participated and showed their support by either joining the protest or speaking out, so read on for further information on the bill and the protest.

Kerry Washington was amongst those who spoke out against Disney’s initial refusal to condemn the Florida bill. She encouraged employees to stand their ground and said, “For a long time, as an employee of ABC, I have been part of the Disney corporate ‘family’. It’s a creative and professional community that I am often happy and proud to be a part of. But sometimes family members disagree. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES. I don’t condone the actions or inactions of Disney in this moment. I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQIA+ employees and stand with them in this [walkout] today. Please know that you matter. Your rights matter. Your voices matter. I encourage you all to help their voices ring louder today.”

For the Disney employees, this walkout was an opportunity to demand protection for LGBTQ+ staff members from legislations like the Florida bill, as well as to call Disney out and stop them from making political donations to controversial politicians.

In a petition to fight against Disney’s “hatred and bigotry”, employees explained, “The recent statements by The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) leadership regarding the Florida legislature’s recent ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill have utterly failed to match the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety represented by this legislation. Primarily, those statements have indicated that leadership still does not truly understand the impact this legislation is having not only on Cast Members in the state of Florida, but on all members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the company and beyond. While we certainly appreciate Bob Chapek’s apology note, there is still more work to be done.”

One of Disney’s major and long-time stars, 36-year-old Raven-Symoné, said, “We don’t like it. We’re walking out. It’s stupid.” She and the staff of the show ‘Raven’s Home’ joined the employee walkout in support of the demonstration. Several other celebrities also spoke out on the matter.