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Disney employees are taking action.
Employees throughout The Walt Disney Company's Burbank, California headquarters are taking today off from work in a move that's sending a strong message to the company about its response to Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill.
In response, several Disney-owned platforms, including ESPN, ABC, Disney+, and Hulu have released statements in support of the company's LGBTQ+ employees, and pledging to do better.
The issue started when the public was made aware of Disney's donations to politicians backing Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would ban teaching about gender and sexuality in the state's public schools. Instead of stopping those donations and putting out a statement against the bill, Disney's CEO Bob Chapeck decided the company was already doing enough.
When the backlash was new, Chapek released a statement saying that the biggest impact the company could make didn't come from donations or statements, but from the inspiring and inclusive content the company produces. Obviously, this did not sit well with fans or employees.
Since then, we've also learned that Disney cut LGBTQ+ characters and scenes from Pixar movies, igniting even more backlash against the company. Finally, it seems like the pressure is getting to Disney, as it's started to change its tune.
Chapek eventually apologized for his company's weak response, and pledged to do better, stopping donations in Florida and increasing support for advocacy groups that combat similar legislation to Florida's. Still, many employees want more, and today, they showed how serious they are.
Last Monday, LGBTQ+ employees of Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and more subsidiaries said they were planning a week of action, that would include a walkout, until Disney does better.
"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," a group of employees organizing the Disney Walkout wrote in a statement. "We must now take action to convince TWDC to protect employees and their families in the face of such open and unapologetic bigotry."
Now, during the walkout, Disney is making statements of support for their LGBTQ+ employees through several platforms.
"Disney+ stands by our LGBTQIA+ employees, colleagues, families, storytellers, and fans, and we strongly denounce all legislation that infringes on the basic human rights of people in the LGBTQIA+ community - especially legislation that targets and harms young people and their families," the statement from Disney's streaming platform reads. "We strive to create a service that reflects the world in which we live, and our hope is to be a source for inclusive, empowering, and authentic stories that unite us in our shared humanity."
"Today, but more importantly every day, ABC proudly supports our LGBTQIA+ employees, families, friends and allies, and we recognize their vital contributions," ABC's statement reads. "We oppose any legislation that threatens basic human rights and stand in solidarity with our colleagues through our practices, our programming, and everything we do."
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