Disney Employees Plan Walkouts in Support of LGBTQIA+ Rights Amid ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Backlash

Disney Employees Plan Walkouts in Support of LGBTQIA+ Rights Amid ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Backlash

In the wake of Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s recent apology for not doing enough to counter Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, employees who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies have announced actions to hold the company accountable.

From their open letter:

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.

Starting today, the organisers are planning a series of walkouts during designated breaks; the protest action will culminate in a full-day event on March 22. Previous to Chapek’s apology, Disney came under fire for not only contributing to the funding of lawmakers behind the Florida bill, but also for long censoring its own queer content. It also recently required that many employees move to a new company campus in Florida without the option to work remotely. The open letter addresses this, specifically citing concerns over the safety of employees and their families: “Over 2,000 employees are being asked to either relocate to Florida or lose their jobs, with no options for remote work in states with friendlier climates to the LGBT community. For a company that advertises itself as a safe space for the LGBT community, it is inappropriate for them to force those employees to move to Florida with this legislation now passed, and more human rights-violating laws likely on the way.”

Along with the open letter, organisers have included a list of demands to publicly commit to actions that go beyond the “pauses” made as an effort to look into remedying the situation.

Disney has not given an official response — Gizmodo has reached out and will update this post if we hear back — but the company’s own internal Pride Advisory Group shared the following, according to Deadline: “We have not organised this walkout nor the accompanying list of demands and we neither endorse nor condemn these actions.”

Letting down its LGBTQIA+ employees and their historical contributions to the company has cast the current Disney leadership in a negative light. Its slow-to-respond reactions speak to a company culture that’s elicited an outcry not just within its ranks but from ally consumers as well.

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