A Disney shareholder is speaking out against the company’s involvement in Florida politics by actively opposing the Republican-led “Parental Rights in Education” bill championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Ray Keating, an economist and editor of DisneyBizJournal.com, said when companies dive into politics, it rarely turns out and well.
“Here’s a suggestion for Disney CEO Bob Chapek: Get back to business, that is, excellence in storytelling, and stop wasting shareholder’s money on political crusades that have nothing to do with Disney’s business,” Keating told Fox News Digital.
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“We all have the right to have our voices heard on issues, but not on the shareholders’ dime.”
DeSantis signed the legislation into law this week that bars instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Critics have depicted the bill as hurtful to LGBTQ inclusiveness and dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Under pressure from LGBTQ activists and progressive employees – some of whom who have walked out of the job in protest – Disney’s Chapek’s eventually criticized the Florida legislation, paused all political giving in Florida and apologized to employees.
“You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down,” Chapek said in a statement on March. 11. “I am sorry.”
Disney this week said it will work to repeal the legislation in Florida because it’s dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” the Disney statement said. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
Keating, who has written about how Disney’s activism is bad for business, said Disney’s decisions on the Florida bill has meant the company is catching heat from both sides of the political spectrum. Ever since Chapek spoke up, critics on the right have condemned Disney as being too “woke” and even talked of boycotting the resort.
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“Disney’s management succumbed to political pressure from activists on the Left, and now it’s getting hit from the Left and the Right,” Keating told Fox News Digital. “If I weren’t a shareholder, I’d find it amusing.”
Nothing in the Florida legislation itself mentions the word gay. It states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”