The feud between Disney and Ron DeSantis is escalating with the Florida governor contemplating a Republican proposal to revoke a state law allowing the entertainment giant to function as its own government.
DeSantis is steamed because the company said Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education bill” — dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents — should be repealed.
The law forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
Critics of the law say that it marginalizes LGBTQ people. DeSantis contends that the measure is reasonable and that parents — not teachers — should broach sexual orientation and gender identity with their children.
The legislation has pushed Florida and DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, to the forefront of the country’s culture wars.
Disney Adopts Harder Line After Employee Walkout
Disney CEO Bob Chapek initially reacted to the bill by saying his company’s “inspiring content” in programs such as “Modern Family” illuminated the company’s position better than any specific condemnation of the legislation.
However, that stance triggered a walkout by a small number of employees and an open letter stating that Disney’ had “utterly failed to match the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety represented by this legislation.”
Last week, Disney became more forceful in its criticism as the company called on the Florida Legislature to repeal the law or for the courts to strike it down.
Statement from The Walt Disney Company on signing of Florida legislation: pic.twitter.com/UVI7Ko3aKS
— Walt Disney Company (@WaltDisneyCo) March 28, 2022
During a news conference at the state Capitol the day after he signed the bill into law, DeSantis said, “I think (Disney) crossed the line. We’re going to make sure we’re fighting back when people are threatening our parents and threatening our kids.”
Florida Lawmaker Assails ‘Woke’ Ideology
Since 1967, Disney World essentially has acted as its own government under the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. Thus, the park oversees its land use and regulates its buildings and roads.
Now some GOP lawmakers are threatening to subject Disney to traditional government oversight.
“If Disney wants to embrace woke ideology,” Florida State Rep. Spencer Roach tweeted, “it seems fitting that they should be regulated by Orange County.”
Yesterday was the 2nd meeting in a week w/fellow legislators to discuss a repeal of the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which allows Disney to act as its own government. If Disney wants to embrace woke ideology, it seems fitting that they should be regulated by Orange County. pic.twitter.com/6sj29Gj6Wz
— SpencerRoach (@SpencerRoachFL) March 30, 2022
(Associated Press contributed to this article.)