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how far he won't go

Disney CEO addresses 'disappointment' that company hasn't criticized Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill

Disney's boss is defending his silence on Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill. 

Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a memo to employees on Monday addressed "disappointment that the company has not issued a public statement condemning" controversial new legislation in Florida that would ban schools from teaching young kids about sexual orientation or concealing students' sexual orientation from parents. Disney has been facing pressure to speak out against the legislation given its business interests in Florida, but Chapek defended not doing so. 

"As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds," Chapek wrote, per Deadline. "Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change." 

Instead, the Disney boss argued "the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce," claiming Disney films such as Black Panther and Encanto are "changing hearts and minds" and are "more powerful than any tweet or lobbying effort." He added that Disney's "ability to tell such stories" would be "diminished if our company were to become a political football in any debate," but he said Disney "unequivocally" supports its LGBTQ+ employees. 

Acknowledging that Disney has "contributed to both Republican and Democrat legislators who have subsequently taken positions on both sides of the legislation," Chapek also said the company would be "reassessing our advocacy strategies," including its political contributions. Chapek quickly drew criticism for not condemning the Florida bill, though, with NPR critic Eric Deggans asking, "What will he tell LGBTQ staff in Florida to do when it becomes law?" 

Meanwhile, former Disney CEO Bob Iger has criticized the bill, supporting President Biden after he called it "hateful." Iger tweeted, "I'm with the president on this! If passed, this bill will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy."