Disney blasted by animation guild for not condemning 'Don't Say Gay' bill: 'Disheartening'

The castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
(Image credit: Matt Stroshane / Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images)

Disney has a great responsibility to condemn Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill, a guild of animators says.

After Disney CEO Bob Chapek defended not speaking out against the controversial Florida legislation, which would ban teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with young students, the executive board of the Animation Guild expressed "immense disappointment" with the company's response.

"It is disheartening that Disney, one of the world's most successful brands with massive resources and a global platform, failed to take any action to help prevent the passage of this bill," the guild said. "It is one thing to say that you 'unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families, and their communities.' It's quite another for you to stand silent while this scurrilous piece of homophobic legislation passes."

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The guild described Disney's response as a "momentous misstep," which "defies logic and company ethics." The statement also quoted the Spider-Man franchise, a part of Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe, to make this point.

"To quote one of your own properties, 'With great power comes great responsibility," the Animation Guild said. "You have failed that test in Florida."

In a memo on Monday, Chapek said Disney stands with its LGBTQ+ employees. But he defended the company's silence on the bill, arguing "corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds" and the "best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce." Chapek's response has drawn further criticism, with Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik writing that Disney is setting a "new standard for corporate cowardice."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chapek "has been concerned that Disney might be viewed as too liberal." Former Disney CEO Bob Iger, in contrast, has condemned the law, tweeting that it "will put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy." The controversy comes just before Disney on Wednesday will hold an annual shareholders meeting.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.