DeSantis slams 'woke' Disney after CEO condemns parents' rights bill

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FIRST ON FOX: Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the Walt Disney Company as “woke” on Thursday after the company came out against a Republican-led parental rights bill in the state that progressives have claimed is anti-LGBTQ.

Speaking to supporters in Boca Raton, DeSantis said there is “zero” chance he’s going to reverse his position on disallowing the instruction of “transgenderism in kindergarten classrooms.”

“When you have companies that have made a fortune off being family friendly and catering to families and young kids, they should understand that parents of young kids do not want this injected into their kid’s kindergarten classroom,” he said.

“You have companies, like at Disney, that are going to say and criticize parents’ rights, they’re going to criticize the fact that we don’t want transgenderism in kindergarten in first grade classrooms,” he continued. “If that’s the hill they’re going to die on, then how do they possibly explain lining their pockets with their relationship from the Communist Party of China? Because that’s what they do, and they make a fortune, and they don’t say a word about the really brutal practices that you see over there at the hands of the CCP. 

“And so in Florida, our policies got to be based on the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musing of woke corporations,” he added.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses a joint session of a legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

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 state Senate Tuesday after passing the House last month, has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by Democrats who falsely claim it bans any discussion pertaining to being gay in the state’s schools. 

Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against the bill for the first time Wednesday in the company’s annual shareholder meeting, during which he announced Disney would be donating $5 million to LGTBQ groups.

Bob Chapek of Disney talks during the Opening Ceremony of the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 at ESPN Wide World of Sports on May 8, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.
(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus)

“I understand that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill,” Chapek said, FOX 35 Orlando reported. “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, working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”

“I called Gov. DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary, and transgender kids and families,” he said.

Chapek said the governor was “very open” to hearing his concerns.

“Governor DeSantis has always been open to hearing from Floridians and having conversations about legislation – as long as those discussions are grounded in facts, not false media narratives,” DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said in a statement. “The governor’s position has not changed.”

In this photo from Feb. 24, 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the 2022 CPAC conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando.
(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

DeSantis is expected to sign the bill, which the White House has condemned as “hateful,” “horrific,” and “a form of bullying.”

“Why are Florida leaders deciding they need to discriminate against kids who are members of the LGBTQI community?” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during her Wednesday briefing. “What prompts them to do that?  Is it meanness?  Is it wanting to make kids have more difficult times in school, in their communities?”

President Biden slammed the bill as “hateful” in a tweet last month.

The Parental Rights in Education does not mention the word “gay,” but it does prohibit classroom instruction on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” with children in third grade or younger, “or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

The bill also requires school districts to notify a student’s parent if there is a change “in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being and the school’s ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for the student,” and it prohibits schools from “encouraging a student to withhold” such information from a parent.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
(AP)

The bill also gives parents a path for recourse, requiring schools to respond to a parent’s concerns within 7 days, and the school must resolve those concerns within 30 days. If the issue is not resolved, parents can then sue the school district or request the state Commissioner of Education appoint a special magistrate to mediate a solution, which the school district must pay for.

The bill does not ban casual discussion of topics relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. It also does not require schools to notify parents if their child comes out as gay or transgender, and it does not require schools to notify parents of information regarding the student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being “if a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.”

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