Disney CEO: Company to pause political donations in Florida following Parental Rights Bill response

ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek announced Friday that the company would be pausing all pausing all political donations in the state of Florida in response to the passage of the Parental Rights in Education bill last week.

Disney has come under fire from the LGBTQ+ community, for not taking a more aggressive stance on what has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

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In a message to employees Chapek said after hearing from colleagues and members LGBTQ+ community he had a better understanding of “how painful our silence was.”

“You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.” Chapek said.

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He also said the company would immediately increase support to help groups combat similar legislation in other states.

Chapek said Disney was “hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values.”

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See CEO Bob Chapek’s message below:

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.

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Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.