Disney employees stage walkout over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Disney employees from across the company have staged a walkout over the company’s response to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

The bill, which passed through the Republican-dominated Florida senate this week, drastically wheels back representation of LGBTQ+ people in education in the state and effectively bars teachers from telling their students about sexual orientation and gender issues.

Disney has been heavily criticised for its heavy-handed approach to the legislation. The company initially refused to withdraw financial support for politicians who backed the bill, and CEO Bob Chapek’s slow response in criticising the legislation sparked ire from employees. 

Chapek had argued that it had hoped that continuing to donate to these politicians would allow it to engage them in positive discussions around stopping the discriminatory political action. This did not work, with governor ​​Ron DeSantis indicating that he will sign the bill to come into law on June 1.

Bob Chapek

On Tuesday, around 60 employees staged a walkout from the company’s bases in Burbank and Glendale, California. This was the most visible display, but a number of reports have highlighted small pockets of protests from staff across the US. 

Disney is one of Florida’s most influential companies. It employs around 70,000 people at its Walt Disney World resort outside of Orlando, making it the biggest single-site employer in the United States.

A staff-led campaign dubbed the ‘Disney Do Better Walkout’ led the walkouts, and has called on Disney to halt its campaign contributions to politicians supporting the measure. The group has also said that it wants Disney to halt all construction in Florida until the state repeals the measure.

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