Florida GOP members of Congress railed against Disney for advocating against the Republican-led “Parental Rights in Education” bill and signaled that the Orlando vacation destination may see boycotts from conservatives for its political activism.
In interviews with Fox News Digital, several Republicans lawmakers said Disney has become too “woke” in their opposition to legislation that bars instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Critics have dubbed the effort the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“Corporate America is under this cloak of arrogance where they think they get to play God with morality and sexuality and a host of other realities in this world, and somehow if you don’t agree with their interpretation, then you are guilty of some kind of hate speech,” Florida Republican Rep. Brian Mast told Fox News Digital.
Mast likened Disney’s recent opposition to the bill to Coca-Cola and Major League Baseball moving the All-Star game out of Georgia last year to protest the state’s voting law as well as efforts by Twitter and Facebook to censor conservative voices. He said conservatives are better than liberals at avoiding companies that try to cancel their viewpoints and Walt Disney World in Florida may be in for lost tourism.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 30: General view of Rededication Moment and debut of “Disney Enchantment” during “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary at Magic Kingdom on September 30, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images / Getty Images)
“There’s a real conviction to actually boycott companies that try to cancel you on the conservative side,” Mast said.
Under pressure from LGBTQ activists and progressive employees – some of whom who have walked out of the job in protest– Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s eventually criticized the Florida legislation, paused all political giving in Florida and apologized to employees.
“You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down,” Chapek said in a statement on March. 11. “I am sorry.”
Disney cast member Nicholas Maldonado protests his company’s stance on LGBTQ issues, while participating in an employee walkout at Walt Disney World, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP Newsroom)
While Disney employees were walking out to demand more LGBTQ support, conservative employees quietly penned an anonymous open letter saying the company has become an “increasingly uncomfortable place to work” for employees whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive. They described an “environment of fear” for right-leaning employees and being treated as “villains.”
“Disney has turned their family-friendly company into an activist machine that perpetuates a whole agenda of left-wing propaganda,” said Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla. “What they’re doing is incredibly dangerous as their company is mainly marketed towards families and children.”
Steube added: “Even their employees have noted Disney doesn’t have room for religious or political conservatives. I hope folks remember that when choosing where to spend their hard-earned vacation funds.”
FILE PHOTO: A screen shows the logo and a ticker symbol for The Walt Disney Company on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid / Reuters Photos)
Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., said “these corporations need to stay out of politics.”
He called it “hypocritical and disgusting” that companies like Disney and Coca-Cola call out states like Florida and Georgia, but continue to do business in China despite its human rights abuses and government censorship.
“They’ll bow down to an authoritarian regime that has zero diversity and, in fact, is committing genocide against ethnic minorities,” Waltz said. “They’ll do whatever it takes to keep that business but yet want to preach social justice here at home … It’s really hypocritical and disgusting.”
The Parental Rights in Education bill bans Florida school employees or third parties from giving classroom instruction on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade.
The bill, which passed the House and Senate and awaits the signature of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by Democrats who have claimed it bans any discussion pertaining to being gay in the state’s schools. President Biden has called the bill “hateful.”
But DeSantis and backers say there’s nothing in the bill preventing anyone from saying gay, but rather it’s about age-appropriate education on gender and sexual orientation in schools.
“For years, children have been exposed to the teachings of gender identity and sexual fluidity in Florida’s classrooms,” said Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla. “If you think schools should be imposing these teachings upon elementary-aged children, you’re the controversial one—not me.”
Rep. Carlos Giménez, R-Fla., said Disney is increasingly out of touch with Florida values if the company thinks it’s appropriate for the state to teach issues of sexual orientation and gender identity to 5, 6, and 7 year-olds.
“In Florida, we are standing up for our parents and families,” Gimenez told Fox News Digital. “Maybe it’s time for Disney to rediscover its core values and quit trying to appease the woke left.”
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – 2021/11/22: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at Buc-eeís travel center, where he announced his proposal of more than $1 billion in gas tax relief for Floridians in response to rising gas p ((Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) / Getty Images)
But Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., said she’s “not worried” that Disney’s stance will impact tourism more broadly in Florida.
“Tourism is such a big industry in Florida, and families love coming here,” Frankel told Fox News Digital. “So from where I sit in Boca Raton, Fla., I think the average person is not looking at it closely, my point of view this is a blip. However, someone in Orlando might see it differently.”
Disney did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.