Disney Climbs the Wall on Sex Education in the US, Employees Strike

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Disney Climbs the Wall on Sex Education in the US, Employees Strike

Disney employees in the United States decided to leave their workplaces this week in protest during their daily break. The reason for the discontent? The company’s reaction to a law banning the teaching of sexual orientation issues in Florida schools.

The bill became a headache for Disney even before it passed last week in the state’s parliament, where the entertainment giant employs more than 75,000 people at its Orlando theme park.

The problems began with an internal memo sent by the company’s CEO, Bob Chapek, on March 7, following a meeting with members of the company’s LGBTQIA+ community.

In the document, cited by several local media outlets, the executive was reluctant to direct Disney to voice opposition to the Florida law. Chapek argued that corporate communications “do very little to change things or minds” and instead “are often used as weapons by one side or the other to divide”.

The publication of the statements unleashed a flurry of criticism, as many saw them as a lack of support for the LGBTI community. A campaign to boycott the company began circulating on social media.

Among the harshest critics is Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, who co-founded the company with his brother, Walt.

“Many LGBTI people and their allies work for Disney or seek their support,” the activist and documentary filmmaker wrote on Twitter. “But Chapek is more concerned about the reaction from the right than his loyal supporters and officials.”

Florida’s law, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents, prohibits teachers from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation issues with their preschoolers through third grade, when they are eight or nine years old.

new setbacks

Controversy escalated when media outlets revealed that among the politicians who received Disney grants in Florida, there were several Republican senators in favor of the controversial education bill.

Last Friday (11), Chapek announced, in a statement, the suspension of all political donations in Florida until further notice.

But the decision did not convince Disney’s LGBTQIA+ employee group and protests were called.

In a text published on the internet, the collective demanded an end to payments to politicians involved with the law and criticized the company’s management for its apathy.

“Disney directors’ recent statements and lack of action regarding Florida law have not matched the magnitude of the threat to the safety of the LGBTQIA+ community that this legislation poses,” the statement said.

“Disney must reaffirm the company’s commitment to protecting and defending its LGBTQIA+ team, even in the face of political risk,” he adds.

The week of demonstrations will end next Tuesday (22) with a general strike called across the country.

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