The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LBGTQ+ advocacy group, issued a press release late Wednesday that it will not accept the $5 million Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s pledged to donate earlier today in the wake of the backlash over the studio’s weak response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill.
Chapek addressed the controversy during Disney’s quarterly shareholding meeting Wednesday morning and stated the company had donated to “both sides of the aisle,” and that he was planning to meet with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He had previously stated that Disney would not get directly involved in the matter, but would merely rely on the “inspiring content we produce.”
In response to Chapek’s statement, Joni Madison, Interim President of the HRC, released the following statement: “The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill, don’t become dangerous laws, and if they do, to work to get them off the books. Businesses have had and continue to have a major impact in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, from marriage equality to the defeat of House Bill 2 in North Carolina and beyond. While Disney took a regrettable stance by choosing to stay silent amid political attacks against LGBTQ+ families in Florida — including hardworking families employed by Disney — today they took a step in the right direction. But it was merely the first step.”
“HRC encourages Disney, and all employers, to continue to fight for their employees – many of whom bravely spoke out to say their CEO’s silence was unacceptable – and the LGBTQ+ community by working with us and state and local LGBTQ+ groups to ensure these dangerous anti-equality proposals that harm LGBTQ+ families and kids have no place in Florida,” the statement continued. “Every student deserves to be seen, and every student deserves an education that prepares them for health and success — regardless of who they are. This should be the beginning of Disney’s advocacy efforts rather than the end.”
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill, officially called the Parental Rights in Education bill, is designed to prohibit Florida schools from teaching students between kindergarten and third grade about topics of sexual orientation or gender identity. After passing the Florida Senate on Tuesday, DeSantis has previously indicated that he intends to sign the bill into law.
Representatives for Disney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.