LGBTQ POLITICS - It has been a scandal-ridden week for Disney.
The company has been blasted by fans and employees alike for refusing to publicly condemn Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would prevent teachers from mentioning LGBTQ people in elementary schools, as well as donating money to the bill’s sponsors.
And today, the company will hold its annual shareholder’s meeting, where the Board of Directors is apparently advising shareholders to vote against certain anti-discrimination and human rights resolutions.
Information provided to LGBTQ Nation from a Disney shareholder shows three resolutions the board is urging shareholders to reject. The first suggests a diligence report evaluating the company’s human rights impacts. The second is a report on median and adjusted pay gaps across race and gender. The third is a workplace non-discrimination audit and report.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek is also up for reelection to the Board today, after spending the week doubling down on the company’s refusal to take a stand for LGBTQ rights.
All Disney staff received a memo from Chapek on Monday expressing that while the company does support LGBTQ people, it doesn’t want to rock the boat by making that clear publicly.
“I do not want anyone to mistake a lack of statement for a lack of support,” Chapek wrote. “We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world. Where we may differ is in the tactics to get there.”
Chapek expressed his belief that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds” and said “they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.”
Similar to the public statement, Chapek emphasized that the best way to take a stand is through “the inspiring content we produce” because “this struggle is much bigger than any one bill in any one state” and as such creating “diverse stories” is the best way to fight back.
Employees disagree and have been urging the company to speak out under the hashtag #DisneySayGay.
Disney animation writer Benjamin Siemon, for example, posted a video about a teacher who helped him realize there was nothing wrong with being gay.
“It made a huge impact on my life,” he said, adding that if the “Don’t Say Gay” bill had been reality during his childhood, “I would have been left alone and scared.”
Some have been unhappy with Chapek for other reasons as well. A group of shareholders on Reddit have been campaigning to vote him out for the past month.
(Molly Sprayregen is a queer writer. Her work can be found in Out Magazine, Them, Into Magazine, The Associated Press, LGBTQ Nation, Roxane Gay's Gay Magazine, and more. More info at MollySpray.com)