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Animators Guild Slams Disney for Staying ‘Silent’ on Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

Guild also criticizes Disney CEO Bob Chapek directly

The Animation Guild became the latest Hollywood organization Tuesday to criticize Disney’s response to a new bill passed in Florida this week. Commonly known as the “don’t say Gay” bill, the law forbids elementary school teachers from discussing gender or sexual orientation with schoolchildren up to third grade, and is partly enforced by allowing parents to sue any school they believe violated it.

“The Animation Guild and the QueerTAG Committee want to express our immense disappointment with how The Walt Disney Company has responded to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. 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 in a statement posted to its various social media accounts.

“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,” the group continued. “To quote one of your own properties, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ You have failed that test in Florida.”

In a longer follow-up statement, the guild also slammed Disney CEO Bob Chapek specifically. Chapek, the group said, “did not unilaterally condemn this homophobic bill, but instead defending the company’s contributions to legislators who supported it.”

Calling this “a momentous misstep by Disney’s leadership that defies logic and company ethics,” the group said “it is time for corporations who continuously seek to engage the LGBTQ+ community to prove that their intentions are not disingenuous by backing up their words with definitive actions.”

The group also shared phone numbers for support hotlines servicing members of the LGBTQ communities. Read their full statement below:

The Animation Guild

Disney has come under fire from in and out of Hollywood for its response to the law. LGBTQ groups have noted that Disney, one of Florida’s biggest employers, didn’t oppose the legislation despite the fact that under Chapek’s predecessor Bob Iger, Disney pressured then-Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to reject a bill that would have allowed faith-based organizations to refuse services to LGBTQ+ individuals that might violate their religious beliefs.

That was in 2016, when Disney threatened to “take our business elsewhere” and refuse to continue filming in the state where several Marvel blockbusters were produced. Deal, a Republican, eventually vetoed the law.

But Chapek defended the company’s silence in an internal memo to staff on Monday, arguing taking a position could be “weaponized” and doing so is often “counterproductive.” Chapek also disclosed that Disney contributed to the campaigns of some the Florida bill’s sponsors and co-sponsors. He did however state that he did “not want anyone to mistake a lack of a statement for a lack of support” for the company’s LGBTQ+ employees.

Representatives for Disney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

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