*Disney has responded to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Groom Kids” bill (aka Don’t Say Gay/Parental Rights in Education bill) by announcing that half of all its characters going forward will represent LGBTQIA or racial minorities.
In other words, parents of young children can expect to see queer characters (mostly likely of color) in more Disney titles — from live-action to animation.
The Walt Disney Company, a powerful player in Florida politics, halted political donations in the state as the Don’t Say Gay bill moved through the legislature. After Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law on Monday, Disney released a statement saying, “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
The controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill prohibits classroom instruction around sexual orientation and gender identity. The law, which applies to kindergarten through third grade, states: “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.”
Prior to the bill becoming law, LGBTQ+ employees of the Walt Disney Company staged walkouts and protested Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill. They called on the company to stop “construction and investment in the state of Florida until hateful legislation is repealed”.
Disney did just that and suspended political contributions in Florida and made clear in a statement that the company opposes “any legislation that infringes on basic human rights”.
Karey Burke, president of Disney’s General Entertainment, said during a company-wide Zoom call on March 28 that the “Don’t Say Gay” issue hits close to home because she is a mother of two queer children. Burke says it is her responsibility to defend the LGBTQ+ community and in doing so, Disney characters must be queer for kids.
She said, “I’m here as the mother of two queer children, actually, one transgender child and one pansexual child, and also as a leader. I have heard so much from so many of my colleagues over the past few weeks in open forums, through emails, and through phone conversations. I feel a responsibility to speak not just for myself but also for [my kids].”
Burke’s statements come after Disney announced that a previously omitted kissing scene between two women in the upcoming animation movie “Lightyear” will be reinstated.
Meanwhile, Latoya Raveneau, executive producer for Disney Television Animation, said the company has been receptive to her “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” to insert queerness into children’s programming, Yahoo reports.
“In my little pocket of Proud Family Disney TVA, the showrunners were super welcoming . . . to my not-at-all-secret gay agenda,” she said in a video obtained by journalist Christopher Rufo. “Maybe it was that way in the past, but I guess something must have happened . . . and then like all that momentum that I felt, that sense of ‘I don’t have to be afraid to have these two characters kiss in the background.’ I was just, wherever I could, adding queerness. . . . No one would stop me, and no one was trying to stop me.”
“Those days of trusting Disney is over, gone… kaput. Anything “Disney” must be monitored before allowing children near it. Best advice is to avoid Disney, altogether,” wrote one Twitter user.
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