Ever since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced what has become known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, those who live and work in the state have not sat quietly. Employees of Disney, one of the state’s largest corporations, have pushed back, not only against DeSantis but against Bob Chapek, the company’s CEO. Chapek has attempted to mollify the situation, but it clearly hasn’t worked.
As per Variety, a group of employees called “Disney Walkout” posted a message announcing a week of in-person and virtual walkouts. “The LGBTQIA+ workers and allies at The Walt Disney Company are standing in solidarity together over the coming weeks,” the statement read. It went on:
“The recent statements by The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) leadership regarding the Florida legislature’s recent ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill have utterly failed to match the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety represented by this legislation … Primarily, those statements have indicated that leadership still does not truly understand the impact this legislation is having not only on cast members in the state of Florida, but on all members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the company and beyond. While we certainly appreciate Bob Chapek’s apology note, there is still more work to be done.”
The group hopes that Chapek will take steps “to regain the trust of the LGBTQIA+ community and employees.” They added, “As a community, we have been forced into an impossible and unsustainable position. We must now take action to convince TWDC to protect employees and their families in the face of such open and unapologetic bigotry.”
The walkouts are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, March 15. They’ll start as 15-minute walkouts during a break period, from 3 to 3:15pm, every day up to and including Monday, March 21. On Tuesday, March 22, organizers have planned a “full-scale walkout.” Organziers warned those who participate that, while the break-time walk-outs are “protected,” the full-scale one “is not a legally protected action,” and that people should take their “own situation into account before choosing to participate.”
The controversial bill, vaguely called the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, seeks to prohibit the teaching of “sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through the third grade. Critics charge that it will allow parents to prosecute anyone who mentions LGBTQIA+ issues, even teachers who are queer or students who have queer parents or relatives. DeSantis, who was recently caught on video bullying students, has refused to cow to pressure, even going so far as mocking the company — which has long peddled “traditional” and often problematic values — as “Woke Disney.”