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Disney CEO Opposes FL Parental Rights Bill After Media Pressure Campaign

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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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Disney CEO Bob Chapek came out against Florida’s parental rights legislation Wednesday after numerous media outlets criticized him for staying neutral on the topic, according to The New York Times.

Florida’s H.B. 1557, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prohibits teachers from instructing on gender identity and sexual orientation before the fourth grade in addition to restricting age-inappropriate teachings on those subjects.

The legislation would also require disclosure of and parental consent for select health treatments offered in schools, and it would bar school districts from creating rules forcing teachers to keep secrets from parents regarding students’ physical or mental health.

Chapek was initially quiet about the Florida legislation, inspiring national media outlets to publish headlines such as “Why Disney Won’t Say Much About Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill,” “On Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, Disney sets a new standard for corporate cowardice” and “DISNEY SAYS IT’S STAYING SILENT ON ‘DON’T SAY GAY’ BILL BECAUSE ITS SHOWS HAVE GAY CHARACTERS.”

“While we’ve been strong supporters of the community for decades, I know that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill,” Chapek said, according to the NYT. “We were opposed to the bill from the outset, and we chose not to take a public position because we felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.” (RELATED: SNL Rips Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill)

Chapek called Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday to express his “disappointment” rooted in potential impacts of the legislation, the NYT reported. “The governor heard our concerns and agreed to meet with me and L.G.B.T.Q.+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss the ways to address them,” he reportedly said.

The legislation passed Florida’s state Senate on Tuesday and awaits DeSantis’ signature.

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