Disney Ignites ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Cultural Blowback

The heat is highest in Florida, where politicians are using the moment to question Disney’s privileged position in the state.

Disney’s decision—after some silence that caused employee furor—to oppose Florida Governor Rick DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which is now a law, has created blowback from some conservative Florida politicians, who are re-thinking Disney’s privileged position as one of the state’s largest private employers.

Last month, Disney said it was “pausing” all political donations in Florida to show its opposition to the bill. Disney donated some $4.8 million to Florida candidates in the 2020 election cycle, campaign finance reports show, per Politico. It also donated $913,000 to the Republican Party of Florida.

Last week, legions of conservative Disney fans led by Christian activist group Hold the Line descended on Mouse House HQ in Burbank to demand a boycott of the entertainment giant because they say it goes out of its way to give in to the demands of the LGBTQ community.

Political threats against Disney range from the petty to the extreme. Congressman Jim Banks (R-Indiana) sent a letter to Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek voicing his disapproval of extending the original copyright for Mickey Mouse, which expires in 2023, according to the Wall Street Journal. Banks wrote that he was ready to let the mouse ears logo retire because he felt the company had “capitulate to far-left activists” regarding LGBTQ issues.

On the local level, a Florida Republican group is bandying the idea of repealing the Reedy Creek Improvement District—the land outside Orlando on which Disney World sits. Because it is an independent tax district, not only does it save tens of millions in county and state taxes every year, it is also allowed a certain amount of self-governance, with its own fire and police departments “exempt from many state and local environmental rules, building codes and taxes,” the Journal reports.

Meanwhile, Disney’s resistance to “Don’t Say Gay” has created a right-wing media backlash, according to the Los Angeles Times. Various right-wing outlets and personalities have contorted the company’s rejection of the law into the idea of the entertainment company “pushing a sexual agenda on children,” in the words of Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

The “Don’t Say Gay” law prohibits teachers having classroom discussion about sexual identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade.

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