Walt Disney World Resort is the single-largest employer in the state of Florida. But it may lose thousands of Cast Members to oppressive, anti-LGBTQIA+ laws pushed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
As the conservative Gov. DeSantis remains embroiled in legal battles against The Walt Disney Company, he continues supporting and passing devastating legislation for LGBTQIA+ Floridians.
In the wake of “Don’t Say Gay” (formally the Parental Rights In Education Act), which Florida recently extended through 12th grade, DeSantis began a crusade of book bans and censored lesson plans through the “Stop W.O.K.E.” Act. On Thursday, the state passed an anti-trans bathroom bill.
A “Protection of Children” bill waiting for DeSantis’s signature could legally forbid children from attending Pride events and drag shows. Another would allow the Florida government to take transgender kids from their parents, even those who don’t reside in Florida. The vague legislation permits the state to take custody of children that officials perceive are “at risk” of receiving gender-affirming care.
What does this have to do with Disney World Cast Members? Orlando has long been a safe haven for the LGBTQIA+ community in Florida. The Walt Disney Company is a longtime supporter of queer Cast Members and fans, offering insurance coverage for domestic partners since the 1990s. After denouncing “Don’t Say Gay,” the Central Florida Disney Park revealed its first-ever officially-titled Disney Pride merchandise collection and agreed to host the world’s largest LGBTQIA+ employment summit.
An April survey found that more than half of LGBTQIA+ parents have considered leaving Florida. With over 75,000 Disney World Cast Members in the state, many of them community members or allies, The Walt Disney Company stands to take a massive hit. Before its battle against DeSantis, Disney planned to move its animation studios to the state – a relocation that is now indefinitely on hold.
Are you considering leaving Florida due to new legislation? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments.