Disney employees are walking out to demand more LGBTQ support

Organizers say CEO Bob Chapek took too long to condemn what critics call Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill

A group of Disney employees staged a walkout on Tuesday at locations across the country, demanding the company do more to protect LGBTQ people and protesting that CEO Bob Chapek waited too long to condemn a bill passed by the Florida legislature.

Disney Bob Chapek

Disney CEO Bob Chapek talks during the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games at ESPN Wide World of Sports on May 8, 2016, in Orlando, Florida. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus / Getty Images)

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The legislation that sparked the outcry is the Parents Rights in Education bill, which has been dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill by critics. If signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, it would prohibit Florida educators from teaching sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

Disney has been under fire from both sides of the political aisle over its response to the bill. It has also come under fire for its operations in China. The National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog and shareholder, accused the media giant of "complicity in China genocide" at the recent shareholders meeting. 


Initially, the company did not take a public position on the bill, drawing the ire of those opposed to it. Chapek then spoke out against it at a shareholders meeting following its passage, announced a pause on political donations in Florida, and vowed Disney would contribute millions of dollars more to LGBTQ causes. The CEO also said he would meet with DeSantis to express his and Disney's opposition to the legislation.

Gov Ron DeSantis Florida

Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at the Eau Gallie High School aviation hangar on March 22, 2021. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

DeSantis fired back in a speech the next day, telling a group of supporters, "You have companies, like Disney, that are going to … criticize parents' rights, they're going to criticize the fact that we don't want trangenderism in kindergarten, in first-grade classrooms."

The governor went on to slam Disney for refusing to condemn human rights abuses in China, where the entertainment giant does substantial business, before adding, "in Florida, our policies got to be based on the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musings of woke corporations."


Now, organizers of Tuesday's protest say Disney's pause on donations to Florida politicians is not enough, and that the company has to do more for the LGBTQ community. 

The group published a list of demands for the company, ordering Disney to cease all campaign donations to politicians that voted for the "Don't Say Gay" bill indefinitely, end all investment in Florida until the bill is repealed, make "substantial contributions" to human rights advocacy groups, and expand the company's LGBTQ content.

Disney employee walkout

Disney cast member Nicholas Maldonado protests his company's stance on LGBTQ issues, while participating in an employee walkout at Walt Disney World, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

It is unclear how many Disney employees participated in the walkout.


Disney did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment, but Disney+ issued a statement Tuesday morning saying, in part, that the streaming service "stands by our LGBTQIA+ employees, colleagues, families, storytellers, and fans, and we strongly denounce all legislation that infringes on the basic human rights of people in the LGBTQIA+ community – especially legislation that targets and harms young people and their families."