Disney CEO Bob Chapek Issues Apology to LGBTQ Employees for Silence Over Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

Disney CEO Bob Chapek issued a rare mea culpa Friday, following two weeks of criticism over the company’s response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

via: Complex

In an email to Disney employees obtained by Variety, Chapek issued an apology to the LGBTQ community for the company’s silence on the controversial bill, which passed the Florida Senate on Tuesday.

“Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill,” Chapek wrote. “Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”

Chapek went on to announce that Disney will be “pausing all political donations in the state of Florida.”

“Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states,” he wrote. “We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review.”

Earlier this week, Chapek had told employees that Disney would not respond to the bill publicly, saying that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds.”

“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,” he added.

Passed by both the Florida Senate and House, the Parental Rights in Education bill would limit what classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Under this legislation, these lessons “may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

Here is the full text of Chapek’s Friday email:

To my fellow colleagues, but especially our LGBTQ+ community,

Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.

Our employees see the power of this great company as an opportunity to do good. I agree. Yes, we need to use our influence to promote that good by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all.

Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review. But, I know there is so much more work to be done. I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally. You will hear more about our progress in the coming weeks.

I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community. I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on—and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.

Bob

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