Disney employees are demanding more LGBTQ support

A number of Disney employees are calling for the company to live up to its expressed ideals when it comes to showing support for LGBTQ employees following the company’s response to what’s been called Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. If signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Parental Rights in Education bill would restrict classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grades, prohibiting instruction on it through third grade in public schools.

After initial public silence on the matter, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek apologized for not being a “stronger ally in the fight for equal rights” and announced a number of supportive measures including donations to advocacy groups and reevaluating political giving, but some employees don’t think that’s enough.

They’re staging a daylong walkout Tuesday with a list of demands for Disney.

Why are Disney employees protesting?

“We want action,” said Nicholas Maldonado, an Orlando-area Disney employee who had always loved working for the company but now won’t even watch Disney+.

Chapek said Disney would pause political donations in Florida amid a restructuring of the framework for such giving, but walkout organizers and supporters want the company to permanently cut off donations to lawmakers who backed the bill.

They also want Disney to stop relocating employees to the state and stop construction and investment there until the bill is off the books. Construction is currently underway for two attractions at Walt Disney World, Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT and TRON Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom.

Other demands include outlining spending and plans for content that increases LGBTQ representation. In an internal memo to employees obtained by USA TODAY, Chapek initially said, “I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support.” In another memo sent days later, following the bill’s passage, he acknowledged the need to promote good “by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all.”