After being severely criticized by LGBTQ Disney and Pixar employees and supporters, and groups including GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) over his lack of response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has issued an apology to the company’s workers, and announced a pause in political donations in Florida.
Chapek’s apology comes a day after the HRC refused to accept Disney’s $5 million donation until he took action on the Florida bill, which forbids use of the word “gay” in grade schools and any discussion of sexuality and gender. The bill has passed the Florida senate and is expected to be signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
In Chapek’s letter to employees, obtained by TheWrap, he wrote that he now agrees that the bill is “[a] challenge to basic human rights,” and that he “let down” employees who hoped he would be a “stronger ally in the fight for equal rights.”
“I let you down. I am sorry,” Chapek wrote.
Here is the full text of Chapek’s email:
To my fellow colleagues, but especially our LGBTQ+ community,
Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. 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.
Our employees see the power of this great company as an opportunity to do good. I agree. Yes, we need to use our influence to promote that good by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all.
Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review. But, I know there is so much more work to be done. I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally. You will hear more about our progress in the coming weeks.
I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community. I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on — and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.