Disney Animators Protest Company’s Stance on Controversial Florida Law

by nerdyminutes


Disney as a company isn’t just a purveyor of entertainment and theme parks — the company is also strongly ingrained with the communities where its parks are located, including Orlando, Florida. With Florida set to pass a new law that critics say discriminates against LGBT children, animators and other key members are increasingly speaking out.

For weeks the Florida state legislature has been debating a new bill that would regulate how schools teach topics on sexual orientation and gender identity. Critics have called it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill as it would bar teachers from planning lessons around LGBT topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to Popular Information, Disney has donated close to $200,000 to members of the Florida legislature that have voted for the bill, which in turn has led current and former Disney employees, particularly those working at Disney Animation, to speak out.

The hashtag #DisneyDoBetter was started by Benjamin Siemon, an LGBT animation writer at Disney who also spoke out against the Florida bill. “I had a teacher who was very kind and talked to me about it and let me know there wasn’t anything wrong with being gay and it had a huge impact on my life,” Siemon says.

“If the Don’t Say Gay bill passes in Florida I would have been left alone and scared and LGBT kids are going to be left alone and scared because of this bill.”

Florida public school districts like Orange County have incorporated LGBT topics into their curriculum, according to The Washington Post, particularly after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 that killed 49 people. But the new bill could potentially ban teachers from discussing this topic with students if it passes. The lawsuit also opens up school districts to lawsuits from parents who disagree with the curriculum.

Supporters of the bill say the law only affects planned lessons around LGBT topics, but the unclear wording of the law has made teachers worry over the potential consequences of even discussing LGBT topics with students who come to them for help or advice.

Other animators and creatives such as Dana Terrace, creator of the Disney Channel original animated series Owl House, have spoken out against Disney’s political contributions and failure to speak publicly on matters that affect the communities the company has a foothold in.

“I know I got bills to pay but working for this company has made me so distraught and I hate having moral quandaries about how I feed myself and how I support my loved ones,” Terrace says. Harris is also hosting a live charity stream on March 13 with proceeds going to support LGBT organizations.

In a memo to employees, Disney CEO Bob Chapek says that rather than speak out publicly the “best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce and the diverse organizations we support.”

But Disney employees using the hashtag to speak up are calling the company hypocritical, saying that Disney is enjoying praise from LGBT representation in its shows while funding politicians who back bills like the ones in Florida.

With the bill passing the Florida Senate on Tuesday, it will arrive on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) desk, who has signaled his willingness to sign the legislation.

Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.





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