Disney employees are staging strikes to protest the company’s response to the Florida bill

LOS ANGELES, March 22 (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co. (DIS.N) employees on Tuesday staged walkouts and social media campaigns to protest the company’s response to Florida law that would limit classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity.

In a rare public demonstration of unrest, about 60 Disney employees gathered in a park outside Los Angeles, where they used signs urging Disney to “protect LGBTQ children” and shouting “Disney says gay. We do not want to go away. “

“A lot of people enjoy working for Disney. And a lot of people are sad that the company they love is hurting the subgroup of employees and their communities in Florida,” said Taylor White, technical director at Disney Television.

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Disney has encountered internal criticism over its public stance on the legislation, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

On Tuesday, some employees walked in a demonstration around the perimeter of the nearby Disney campus. Other employees commented via Twitter. Turnout was modest for Disney, which employs about 16,000 people in Burbank and Glendale, though many work from home due to the pandemic.

The protests culminated in a week of shortened walk-outs during scheduled breaks, as part of a campaign called “Disney Do Better Walkout.”

Organizers urged Disney to suspend campaign contributions to politicians who support the Florida measure and to develop a plan to protect employees from such legislation. They also want Disney to halt construction in Florida, home of the company’s flagship Walt Disney World theme park, until the state repeals the measure, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated he will sign into law. In that case, it will enter into force on 1 July.

Disney tried to address employee concerns through a virtual town hall for employees on Monday. CEO Bob Chapek said the company made a mistake when they initially remained publicly silent about the legislation and promised to use the moment as a catalyst for change.

“We know how important this issue is to our LGBTQ + staff, their families and allies, we respect the right of our colleagues to express their views,” a Disney spokesman said. “And we promise our continued support for the LGBTQ + community in the fight for equal rights.”

Ahead of Tuesday’s demonstrations, a unit at the company, Disney +, offered public support to LGBTQIA + colleagues on Twitter, writing: “We strongly condemn any legislation that violates the fundamental human rights of people in the LGBTQIA + community.”

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Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Dawn Chmielewski; Edited by David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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