*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and Disney heir Abigail Disney criticized the Disney Corporation amid reports that the entertainment company has donated to politicians who supported Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Florida’s Republican-sponsored Parental Rights in Education bill, or H.B. 1557, was recently passed by the state's House of Representatives. The bill, colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, aims to “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner.”
The bill wants to prohibit “a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a specified manner” and authorizes parents to “bring an action against a school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that a school district procedure or practice violates certain provisions of law.”
Disney made clear that she is "more than unhappy" with the company's "political activities, both in terms of whom they fund and how they lobby."
She signaled she would back legislation requiring all corporations to reveal all of their funding and lobbying activities.
Current Disney Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Chapek has not spoken out against the lesgislation, a sharp contrast from former Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger, who retweeted President Joe Boden’s criticism of the “hateful bill.”
Geoff Morrell, a former George W. Bush appointee to the Defense Department who now works as the Disney Corporation's Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, has defended Chapek's silence, saying he simply desires both to keep his personal political affiliations private and for the Disney Corporation to remain apolitical.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Morrell said:
“Whatever Bob’s personal politics are, he’s not an activist and does not bring any partisan agenda to work. He sees himself first and foremost as the custodian of a unifying brand that for nearly a century has been bringing people together."
“He believes the best way we can help create a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create and the diverse community organizations we support.”
But that explanation has not satisfied Disney fans, who've criticized the company's stance and praised Abigail Disney for speaking out.
The bill's sponsor, Republican state Representative Joe Harding, previously claimed the bill is “designed to keep school districts from talking about these topics before kids are ready to process them.”
However, his justifications have only further galvanized activists.
In January, educator and activist Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, said the "Don't Say Gay" bill isn’t about “parental rights” at all but about discrimination and control. Chasten Buttigieg acknowledged LGBTQ+ people and their families have often been used as scapegoats throughout history and said the legislation would "push LGBTQ families away and into the closet."
Adding the bill would "kill kids," he went on to cite statistics from The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth.
Buttigieg noted suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 and that 42 percent of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
LGBTQ+ Youth can get help through:
- TrevorChat — 24/7/365 at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#services
- TrevorLifeline — phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
- TrevorText — Text “START” to 678678. Available 24/7/365.
- TrevorSpace — online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends at https://www.trevorspace.org/
- Trevor Support Center — LGBTQ youth & allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center/#sm.0000121hx9lvicotqs52mb1saenel