ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Hundreds of people chanted and shouted in front of the Disney sign calling on the company to share its views on the Parental Rights in Education bill, widely known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
There were over 200 people gathered outside Disney calling for action.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation held two rallies, one here in Florida and the other in California.
The goal is to get Disney to speak out against the Parental Rights in Education bill, the organization even sending out paid commercials to make their voice louder.
“Kids need a safe space to discuss issues that they are going through, and if for whatever reason they don’t feel safe talking to their parents, they need to a trusted teacher or a counselor,” said Michael Kahane, of the AHF Foundation.
The bill has already passed in the State House. It aims to prohibit classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity, primarily for students in kindergarten through third grade.
It forbids districts from implementing any policies requiring school personnel to withhold information from a parent about their child’s mental, emotional or physical health, but the bill does allow for certain exemptions if it is believed the information would result in abuse or abandonment of a child.
“To be frank I understand, like this.. a lot of this is not something people are talking about on a regular basis, maybe they don’t know how to have these conversations,” parent Ebonni Crispin said. “At the end of the day, we have to be able to protect all children, not just some children.”
State Sen. Dennis Baxley, who wrote the bill, issued the following statement on the proposed piece of legislation:
“It is hard to understand how this bill has been so misunderstood. All we are trying to do is empower parents to take responsibility for their children. These kids belong to families, they are not wards of the state, and parents should get to decide what is age-appropriate content for their children.”
Orlando LGBTQ leaders and city officials disagree.
“What message does this bill send? Does this bill sends a message affirmation, love, and inclusivity? If you really dig deep, you’ll realize that it’s not,” said Daniel Downer with Bros in Convo, Inc.
His thoughts follow closely with Orange County Commissioner Patty Sheehan.
“I’ve seen some of the stuff on social media where they say we are indoctrinating children,” she said. “No we are not. We’re teaching children that decency and accepting people who are different is a good thing.”
We reached out to Disney for comment but have not heard back.
Baxley said the company has backed his campaign, saying Disney has “a world of interests on a variety of topics.”
Demonstrators said with Disney hosting a variety of LGBTQ events, like “Gay Days,” the company needs to take a stand.
“To turn your back on your guests and your employees because someone doesn’t think they should be able to talk about sexual orientation or get guidance or counseling... is hate speech,” Kahane said.
The bill is currently in the Senate at this time. News 6 will continue to follow the progress of this bill.