Walkouts at Disney Protest Company’s Response to Florida’s Anti-Gay Law

Disney employee walkout
Disney employees protest Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Glendale. REUTERS/Ringo Chiu

Walt Disney Co employees staged walkouts and social media campaigns on Tuesday to protest the company’s response to Florida legislation that would limit classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity.

In a rare public display of unrest, around 60 Disney employees gathered in a park outside Los Angeles, where they held up signs calling on Disney to ‘protect LGBTQ children’ and chanted “Disney says gay. We’re not leaving.

“A lot of people love working for Disney. And a lot of people are upset that the company they love is hurting the subset of employees and their community in Florida,” said Taylor White, CTO of Disney Television. .

Disney has faced internal criticism over its public stance toward the legislation, which critics are calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

On Tuesday, some employees took part in a protest around the perimeter of the land near Disney Studios. Other employees spoke out via Twitter. Turnout was modest for Disney, which employs some 16,000 people in Burbank and Glendale, though many are working from home due to the pandemic.

The protests culminated a week of abbreviated outings during scheduled breaks, part of a campaign dubbed “Disney Do Better Walkout”.

Organizers called on Disney to stop campaign contributions to politicians supporting Florida’s measure and develop a plan to protect employees from such legislation. They also want Disney to halt construction in Florida, home to the company’s flagship theme park, Walt Disney World, until the state repeals the measure, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated he will sign. . If so, it will come into effect on July 1.

Disney attempted to address employee concerns through a virtual employee town hall on Monday. CEO Bob Chapek said the company erred in initially remaining publicly silent on the legislation and pledged to use the moment as a catalyst for change.

“We know how important this issue is to our LGBTQ+ employees, their families and allies, and we respect our co-workers’ right to express their views,” a Disney spokesperson said. “And we pledge our continued support to the LGBTQ+ community in the fight for equal rights.”

Ahead of Tuesday’s protests, a unit within the company, Disney+, offered public support for LGBTQIA+ colleagues on Twitter, writing, “We strongly oppose any legislation that violates the basic human rights of people in the LGBTQIA community. +.”