The Walt Disney Company announced that its 'goal as a company' is for Florida's new anti-LGBTQ law 'to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts.'
Since the Walt Disney Company announced its opposition to Florida's so-called "Parental Rights in Education" law, called the "Don't Say Gay" law by its opponents, the conservative Fox News network has repeatedly attacked the entertainment giant.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed H.R. 1557 into law on Monday. Among its provisions is one that reads: "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."
Teachers say they are worried about the chilling effects of the law, arguing that it could prevent either them or their students from discussing the reality of their home lives.
That same day, Disney announced its opposition to the legislation in a statement.
"Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that," the company said. "We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country."
The company had previously been criticized for its donations to anti-LGBTQ politicians, which were contrasted to its purported support for gender equality. Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized for the company's actions on March 25, saying in a statement, "You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry."
On multiple Fox News programs, Disney has been attacked for expressing its position.
Primetime host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday claimed that Disney supports "chemical castration" of children and made a false connection between the company and "human trafficking," echoing the widely debunked QAnon conspiracy theory.
The next day, longtime Fox contributor Tammy Bruce argued that opposing the law meant that Disney and others were in favor of "sexualizing children," while "Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade said that people who oppose the law want children "talking about sex." Laura Ingraham, host of "The Ingraham Angle," said Disney was airing "propaganda for grooming."
Fox has a long history of attacks on children's media. The network previously alleged that the Muppets (also owned by Disney) were part of an attack on capitalism and brainwashing children, and in November promoted an effort to defund PBS after Sesame Street added an Asian American puppet.
In contrast to Fox's recent claims about Disney, in 2019 the network's founder and owner Rupert Murdoch completed a major deal with the company, selling off Fox's entertainment assets to Disney for $71 billion.
Laws such as Florida's have been condemned by the White House. On Friday, President Joe Biden commemorated Transgender Day of Visibility and called out "dangerous anti-transgender legislative attacks" enacted by multiple Republican-led legislatures.
The administration announced that citizens will now be able to designate "X" as a gender marker on their passports, and that the Transportation Security Administration will soon update body scanners in order to reduce false-alarm rates that require pat-downs of travelers. The administration also noted that new resources were being made available to transgender children and their families to help deal with obstacles such as the higher risk of attempted suicide among those who are bullied or face rejection and the denial of health care.
Attorney General Merrick Garland reaffirmed in a statement the Department of Justice's commitment to protecting transgender rights.
"On this International Transgender Day of Visibility, the Justice Department is committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of transgender individuals," Garland said. "Transgender individuals deserve to be able to live free from discrimination, harassment, violence, and threats of violence. Transgender youth deserve to be loved and protected. And members of the transgender community deserve to be treated with dignity and respect."
Equality Florida condemned the new state law and described it as "intended to erase LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ families, and LGBTQ history." The group said on its website: "Equality Florida will defend the rights of all students to have a healthy environment to learn and thrive and for all parents to know their families are included and respected. This law will not stand. We will work to see it removed either by the courts as unconstitutional or repealed by the legislature."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.