'I let you down'
Disney's CEO has apologized to staff for his earlier silence on Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill as the company pauses all political donations in the state.
In a letter to staff Friday, CEO Bob Chapek apologized for his decision not to speak out against the bill, which would ban schools from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with younger kids, until it had already been passed.
"Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was," Chapek said, per Variety. "It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry."
Chapek announced Disney would develop a "new framework for our political giving" and that pending a review, it will be "pausing all political donations" in Florida. He previously said the company has donated to Republicans and Democrats who have "taken positions on both sides of the legislation."
Earlier this week, Chapek defended not speaking up to condemn the bill, arguing "corporate statements do very little" and that the best way Disney can help "bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce." After backlash, Chapek reversed course two days later, claiming Disney was "opposed to the bill from the outset" but "felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes."
Chapek now says Disney needs "to use our influence" by "standing up for the rights of all," not just by "telling inclusive stories." He also wrote Friday that Disney will be "increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states."