TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek plans to meet with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss the state’s controversial so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, according to reports.
According to CNBC, Chapek told Disney shareholders on Wednesday that he would meet with the governor to discuss the legislation. He also said Disney will donate $5 million to organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, which work to protect LGTBQ+ rights, according to the report.
During the shareholders meeting, Chapek said he had already called DeSantis Wednesday morning to convey his “disappointment” with the bill.
“I know that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill,” Chapek said. “We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”
His comments to shareholders come just days after the Hollywood Reporter shared a memo from Chapek to Disney employees that he and the company “stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families and their communities.” He added in the memo that the company did not plan to release any public statement on the law.
“As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame,” the memo read in part. “Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.”
The memo noted that Disney’s new chief corporate affairs officer would also be rethinking the company strategy for political contributions in Florida and internationally moving forward.
The Florida Senate passed the bill banning certain discussions on sexual orientation and gender identities in schools on Tuesday. The law would apply to kindergarten through third-grade classrooms.
The legislation would not only prevent teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues in classrooms, but it would also allow parents or guardians to sue teachers and/or schools who discuss these topics
According to supporters, the bill aims to shield students from material that’s not “age-appropriate.”
But the bill also contains language many worry will enable and/or force schools to “out” LGBTQ+ students to their families. According to the bill, schools are prohibited from preventing personnel from notifying parents about “specified information or that encourage the student to withhold from parent such information.”
The bill will now head to DeSantis’ desk, where it’s expected to be signed into law.
According to the governor’s office, no in-person meeting has been scheduled yet.