Florida legislators recently passed the Parental Rights in Education Act, which prohibits instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in schools from kindergarten through 3rd grade.
When the Act was still a bill, some groups called on Disney CEO Bob Chapek to condemn the legislation. The Walt Disney Company did release a statement opposing the bill, though some felt their response was delayed. After the bill was signed into law, Disney announced that it was their intention to support groups who were working to have the law repealed or struck down in courts. Now, a group of House Representatives has written to Chapek, condemning the company’s response to the act.
Specifically, the Parental Rights in Education Act states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” When the bill was signed into law, Disney stated that it “should never have passed and should never have been signed into law.”
Disney said that their goal “as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts,” noting that they “remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
In response to Disney’s statement, 12 House Republicans have written an open letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek. They stated, “We write to you today to express our concerns regarding your comments that stand in opposition to parental rights.” They further stated that the Parental Rights in Education Act “is a reasonable step to ensure that parents, not teachers, are discussing controversial and sensitive subjects like sexuality and gender identity with their children.”
The legislators pointed out that the Walt Disney Company did not speak out against the bill “while the Florida legislature was reviewing the bill” and also that Disney has donated to the political campaigns of several of the supporters of the bill. Disney has since paused most political contributions to Florida politicians.
The House Republicans accused Disney of waiting “until facing progressive backlash to release a hostile statement in opposition to this legislation.” They further stated, “While we recognize the importance of free speech, we are disappointed that you have chosen to use your voice and influence to actively work to repeal substantive protections for parents.”
In the conclusion of the letter, the members of Congress said that Disney’s goals as a company should be “to make a profit, provide job opportunities for hard-working Americans, and offer quality products and services to your customers” rather than to work to have the Parental Rights in Education Act repealed.
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