In its strongest and most explicit public opposition yet, The Walt Disney Co. said Monday that its “goal as a company” is for Florida lawmakers to repeal the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, dubbed by opponents as the “don’t say gay” bill, or for it to be struck down by the courts.
The company’s statement, posted on Twitter the same day that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law, said the company would support national and state organizations working to achieve those outcomes.
“Florida’s HB 1557 ... should have never passed and should never have been signed into law,” the company’s statement read.
If Disney were to provide support for potential legal challenges of the new law, that would mark an escalation in the rift between the Florida GOP and one of the state’s most powerful corporations.
In recent weeks, Disney has been in a political pressure cooker as it’s taken hits from both the bill’s opponents — who said the company didn’t do enough to wield its monumental influence against the bill — as well as the measure’s backers, including DeSantis.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek called the governor to express concerns about the bill the day after its passage. The next day, DeSantis mocked the company for being “woke” both in a speech to supporters and in campaign fundraising emails.
Over the years, The Walt Disney Co. and related companies made political contributions to all of the bill’s sponsors and co-sponsors, and had already donated more than $800,000 to DeSantis, the Republican Party of Florida and committees tied to the Legislature’s Republican leadership since the 2020 election.
But since this controversy erupted, Disney announced it would suspend all political giving in Florida.
Still, some Disney employees in California staged a walkout in protest of the company’s handling of the bill, saying it hadn’t been vocal enough in opposition. The Florida Democratic Party, which had scheduled its annual fundraising gala at a Walt Disney World resort, announced it would move the event and reschedule after LGBTQ party members called for a boycott.