Disney in turmoil as LGBTQ employees stage walkouts
CEO bet badly, staying silent on "Don't say Gay" as a majority of Americans oppose Florida law. And it's a signal to Democrats to hit the GOP hard.
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LGBTQ Disney employees have been speaking out loudly about Disney CEO Bob Chapak initially staying silent on Florida’s horrendous “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill, allowing it to pass by the GOP legislature when Disney could have flexed its considerable muscle in the state.
Chapak, in a dismal display, reversed course after employees and LGBTQ groups voiced anger, but the damage was done. Chapak announced a large contribution to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ group, and said all donations to all politicians in Florida would be “paused.”
HRC rightly declined the money and put out a statement saying it would continue to do so until “meaningful action” was taken. (Frankly, the group should have been speaking out weeks ago amid Disney’s silence and the CEO’s statement that he would in fact be staying out of the fight.)
Now comes polling showing just how out of step Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida GOP and the national GOP are in pushing laws that ban discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. A new ABC poll shows more than 6 in 10 Americans “oppose legislation that would prohibit classroom lessons about sexual orientation or gender identity in elementary school.” Some key points:
The results show lopsided disapproval for laws like the one that recently passed in Florida that limits what elementary school classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has expressed support for the bill, which awaits his signature or veto….
Support for this type of legislation increases with age, but doesn’t reach majority support in any age group. Among those 65 and older, 43% support the ban, while it falls to about a third among those under the age of 50.
Results were not significantly different by education level. Sixty-five percent of respondents with a college degree oppose such legislation, while 60% of those with a high school education or less also oppose it.
Only among Republicans voters does a majority support such bills, which is why the GOP politicians see this issue as a good move to play to the GOP base — but a substantial minority of Republican voters actually don’t support it, 39%. And in worse news for the GOP, only 35% of independents, the largest political affiliation, support prohibiting such classroom discussion.
This is where Disney has put itself: With the Trumpified minority of MAGA supporters who back the Big Lie, apologize for Vladimir Putin and are determined to harm the rights of women and minorities.
In poll after poll Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to bills that have been passed banning transgender girls from playing in high school team sports. And Americans are horrified by what Texas is doing, where Governor Greg Abbott moved to investigate families in which transgender children are receiving gender-affirming medical care — now a standard of care — deeming it “child abuse” and having Child Protective Services terrorize these families.
Disney’s LGTBQ employee have now announced walkouts, and listed demands, which include Disney cutting off all donations to DeSantis and any Republicans who created and supported the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill. For Chapak to claim there will be a “pause” in donations to all politicians is a slap in the face because it means that Democrats who support queer right — including openly gay, lesbian or transgender Democrats — will also be targeted. But more so, it underscores that Disney has been giving money to DeSantis and the extremist Republicans all the while.
HRC should be putting other companies on notice — companies that tout inclusive policies while giving money to anti-LGBTQ Republicans. The turmoil Disney is experiencing, with the CEO facing walkouts and a company in rebellion, could easily happen at many other companies. Every company should be made to know that.
And Democrats need to see that this issue, among so many others, pits Republicans once again against the majority of Americans and against swing voters in particular. Some Democrats stress talking about positive issues going into the mid-terms, focusing on what they’ve done in passing legislation — and that is important. But Americans must be woken up to the ways the GOP is assaulting democracy, from excusing January 6th and supporting the Big Lie to stripping groups of their civil rights.
In an atmosphere in which the GOP tries to use culture wars and distort what these issues are about — aided by a media that increasingly gives the GOP a pass, as it did on “critical race theory” in Virginia’s gubernatorial election — the polls are showing Americans still get it.
Americans know what’s right. They’ve moved dramatically on these issues, and the GOP is in the minority. The problem is that many Americans may not be informed about what’s happening, especially with so much else going on in the world and the GOP, with the help of the media, engaged in distortions. That’s why Democrats must sound the alarm, especially if they want to win.