Corporate Activism: Disney

In March, Disney employees protested Florida legislation, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. HB 1557 prohibits classroom discussion in primary schools on sexual orientation or gender identity, which topics can arise during these tender years, as we have observed in documentaries like (Tomorrow Pictures). Disney employees demanded that Disney stop supporting campaigns of politicians sponsoring the bill. In response, Disney CEO Bob Chapek issued a memo, which received blowback. In particular, because it stated, “I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support.” 

A group of anonymous Pixar employees responded by asserting that Disney’s practice is to cut content depicting overtly gay affection (and deny romance between same-sex couples) citing examples in Pixar animated feature, Luca. Further, employees cited that Disney canceled a series, The Owl House, after 2 seasons, which show made history as the first with a bisexual lead character and one of animations first overall LGBTQ+ lead children’s animated characters. Even the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), whom Disney supported previously, rejected Disney’s 5mm dollar donation. 

Why does Disney have this role you might ask? In the past, Disney has taken public action against legislation, in particular in Georgia, that many feel influenced the legislative outcome and preventing passage. So now that LGBTQ+ rights are at stake with respect to families with children, employees once again are looking to Disney to help protect their rights, them, and their families (and the families of their audiences) by pulling funding from politicians actively supporting the bill. In response, Disney paused in-state political donations and is “rethinking funding” political campaigns.

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