ORLANDO, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis is condemning Disney’s response to Florida’s bill banning discussion of sexual orientation and identity in some classrooms, calling the company “woke” and saying it’s fallen for “phony hysteria” from the corporate media.
Speaking at a rally in Boca Raton for his gubernatorial reelection campaign, DeSantis said there was zero chance he was going to reverse his support on the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, HB 1557, which, among other things, prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
While most Republicans trumpet the bill as pro-parent, critics point out that the bill’s vague language in other portions could endanger LGBTQ students, or students with LGBTQ families.
For instance, while the bill does specify no instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for K-3 grades, it also prohibits instruction “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
It also prohibits schools and staff from withholding information about a student’s mental, emotional or physical well-being, unless there is a reason to believe the student would be subject to abuse, abandonment or neglect.
It also allows parents the right to sue schools to enforce their right to the information.
A Republican lawmaker tried to amend the bill to make it more about sexual education, rather than orientation and gender identity, and that amendment was denied.
On Wednesday, the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Robert Chapek, said he was disappointed and concerned about the bill. He told shareholders that the company had engaged with Florida lawmakers on both sides of the aisle regarding the bill from the beginning, but chose not to be public about its concerns. Chapek talked to DeSantis’ office on Wednesday.
“The governor heard our concerns in agreeing to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address them,” Chapek said. “Certainly the outcome in Florida was not what many of us were hoping for, especially our LGBTQ+ employees.”
At the rally, DeSantis went further in attacking Disney by linking it to China.
“If that’s the hill they’re going to die on, then how do they possibly explain lining their pockets with their relationship from the Communist Party of China?” he said, referring to Disney’s theme parks and movie distribution in the Communist country.
DeSantis’ campaign doubled down on the attacks in a fundraising email to supporters on Thursday. He said the Florida bill “sensibly prohibits K-3rd graders from being indoctrinated with transgenderism and R-rated lessons about sexuality. "
He also accused Disney of not reading the bill, and said a member of his campaign staff would be sending a volunteer to Disney headquarters in Orlando to deliver a copy of the seven-page bill.
Disney has donated quite extensively to DeSantis’ political action committee in the last few years.
Since 2019, Disney has given $106,809.38 to Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Disney has also donated thousands to many lawmakers, including the sponsors and supporters of the bill.
News 6 has reached out to Disney for a statement regarding DeSantis’ criticisms. We are waiting to hear back.