Hollywood 2022: Animation Guild Condemns Disney’s “Failed” Response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

Animation Guild Condemns Disney’s “Failed” Response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

“It is one thing to say that you ‘unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities.’ It’s quite another for you to stand silent while this scurrilous piece of homophobic legislation passes,” the guild said in a statement Tuesday

The Animation Guild’s Executive Board and Queer TAG Committee said the decision by Disney’s CEO to not release a statement opposing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill was a “momentous misstep.”

Gay Directors, Gay Films? By Emanuel Levy (Columbia University Press, August 2015).

“It is disheartening that Disney, one of the world’s most successful brands with massive resources and a global platform, failed to take any action to help prevent the passage of this bill,” the group wrote in a social media statement late Tuesday. “It is one thing to say that you ‘unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ employees, their families, and their communities.’ It’s quite another for you to stand silent while this scurrilous piece of homophobic legislation passes.”

 

The group’s criticism of Disney CEO Bob Chapek comes one day after he released a staff memo saying the company “unequivocally” stands with its LGBTQ+ employees, but he didn’t issue a public statement condemning the legislation.

Gay Directors, Gay Films? By Emanuel Levy (Columbia University Press, August 2015).

The guild wrote that Chapek “did not unilaterally condemn this homophobic bill, but instead defended the company’s contributions to legislators who supported it.”

The guild’s response — on behalf of LGBTQ+ members of The Animation Guild (IATSE Local 839), including employees of The Walt Disney Company, the leadership of The Animation Guild and allies — describes Chapek’s decision as “a momentous misstep by Disney’s leadership that defies logic and company ethics.”

“It is time for corporations who continuously seek to engage the LGBTQ+ community to prove that their intentions are not disingenuous by backing up their words with definitive actions,” the statement continues. “To quote one of your own properties, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ You have failed that test in Florida.”

Don’s Say Gay

The statement was released hours after HB 1557/SB 1834, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was passed by Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature and now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade in public schools, and allows parents to be able to sue districts over violations.

In a memo to employees, Chapek told staff he did not want them to “mistake a lack of a statement for a lack of support” but that the company’s public silence around the bill was due to corporate statements doing “very little to change outcomes or minds.”

“Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame,” he continued. “Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.”

He also noted that the company has “taken positions on both sides of the legislation” and that it is reassessing “advocacy strategies around the world — including political giving.”

While Chapek has taken one approach to responding to the bill, Bob Iger tweeted on Feb. 24 that he supported President Joe Biden’s stance, writing that “this bill will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy.”