The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBTQ rights advocate, has refused a donation from
Disney, citing the company's tepid response to Florida's “Don't Say
House Bill 1557 cleared the
Republican-led legislature earlier this week and Republican Governor
Ron DeSantis has signaled his support.
The measure prohibits schools for
children in kindergarten through grade 3 from engaging in
“instruction” about sexual orientation and gender identity. It
also restricts the topic throughout the education system and allows
parents to sue school districts.
Disney remained quiet on the issue as
lawmakers debated the bill. The Orlando Sentinel reported that
Disney has donated money to all of the bill's sponsors and
On Wednesday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek
told shareholders at its annual meeting that Disney attempted to work
behind the scenes to kill the legislation.
“I understand our political approach,
no matter how well intentioned, didn't quite get the job done,” he
said during the virtual meeting.
Chapek also announced that Disney is
donating $5 million to protect LGBTQ rights and that he would be
meeting with Governor DeSantis.
While HRC was the only group mentioned
by Chapek, it's unclear how much money was earmarked for the group.
In a statement, HRC said that it would
refuse the donation until it saw a greater commitment to LGBTQ rights
“The Human Rights Campaign will not
accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public
commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous
proposals, like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill, don’t
become dangerous laws, and if they do, to work to get them off the
books. Businesses have had and continue to have a major impact in the
fight for LGBTQ+ rights, from marriage equality to the defeat of
House Bill 2 in North Carolina and beyond. While Disney took a
regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks
against LGBTQ+ families in Florida – including hardworking families
employed by Disney – today they took a step in the right direction.
But it was merely the first step.”
“HRC encourages Disney, and all
employers, to continue to fight for their employees – many of whom
bravely spoke out to say their CEO’s silence was unacceptable –
and the LGBTQ+ community by working with us and state and local
LGBTQ+ groups to ensure these dangerous anti-equality proposals that
harm LGBTQ+ families and kids have no place in Florida. Every student
deserves to be seen, and every student deserves an education that
prepares them for health and success – regardless of who they are.
This should be the beginning of Disney’s advocacy efforts rather
than the end.”
In response, a Disney spokesperson said
that the company was committed to taking “meaningful action.”
“We signed the HRC’s national
business statement opposing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and pledged to
financially support their efforts, and while we are surprised and
disappointed that they will not take our financial support at this
time, we remain committed to meaningful action to combat legislation
targeting the LGBTQ+ community,” the spokesperson said.