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Disney says its 'goal' is for Florida's 'Parental Rights' bill to be struck down or repealed

The Walt Disney Co. added it is "dedicated" to standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Walt Disney Co. wasted no time Monday responding to Gov. Ron DeSantis signing a divisive bill limiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida schools into law.

It's the latest in a string of public statements against HB 1557: "Parental Rights in Education" Disney has made since facing backlash over an initially lacking response to the legislation. 

The controversial legislation has been dubbed by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" bill because it bars educators from teaching LGBTQ-related topics within a curriculum to students in kindergarten through third grade.

Within an hour of the governor putting pen to paper, The Walt Disney Co. released the following statement: 

"Florida's HB 1557, also known as the 'Don't Say Gay' bill, should never have been passed and should never have been signed into law. Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country." 

As of late, Disney and DeSantis have nearly become synonymous with discussions surrounding the "Parental Rights in Education" bill. 

It all stems back to March 9 when Disney CEO Bob Chapek first took a public stance on the bill — after facing backlash for his silence — sharing he called DeSantis to express "disappointment" and "concern" with the bill.

“The governor heard our concerns and agreed to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address them,” Chapek said at the time.

The governor's office confirmed to 10 Tampa Bay that DeSantis did take a call from Chapek but that his "position has not changed." 

"Disney is a family-friendly company that creates wholesome entertainment for kids. The same Florida parents who take their families to Disney also support parental rights in education, because they do not want their young children exposed to inappropriate content about sex and gender theory at school," a spokesperson for the governor's office wrote in an emailed statement, at the time.

DeSantis would later double down on not allowing Disney to sway his decision in both a campaign email and while speaking to supporters in Boca Raton. 

"Governor DeSantis’ policies are always going to be in the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musings of woke corporations," the Team DeSantis email reads. 

It's a sentiment the governor also expressed in a 2:20 minute video obtained by Fox News where DeSantis, on March 10, told a group of supporters the chance that he will "back down" due to pressure from "woke" corporations is "zero."

Soon after, The Walt Disney Co. announced it would be pausing political donations in the Sunshine State. The stoppage on Florida-based political donations was said to be in place as Disney reworked its current system into one that "will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values." 

In the same announcement, Chapek also apologized to employees for the way things unfolded.

"It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights," Chapek's letter read. "You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry."

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