Bob Chapek, Disney CEO at the Boston College Chief Executives Club, November 15, 2021.

Charles Krupa | AP

Senior leaders in Disney’s creative studios have expressed frustration with CEO Bob Chapek over his handling of the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

Chapek met senior leadership groups from the media giant’s creative studios after the company’s annual meeting on March 9. Many have expressed frustration at Disney’s unwillingness to take a firm stance against the bill, the people said.

Employees also expressed concerns in the wake of the meeting, saying Chapek did not respond critically to homophobic comments from a shareholder during the question-and-answer period, according to the people, who wished to remain anonymous to discuss internal conversations at Disney.

Chapek and Disney were under pressure for not coming out earlier in opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. The legislation prohibits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools for kindergarten through third grade. It has been dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” and criticized by proponents who believe the bill could harm marginalized people.

In the past week, executives have hosted town halls and met with employees to hear their frustrations and concerns, the people said. Some were reassured by an email Chapek sent Friday to express his commitment to support and engage with the LGBTQ+ community and to suspend all political donations in Florida pending review.

Still, many of those people say they’re waiting for the company to take appropriate action against the bill. Some employees organized a strike on Tuesday in protest.

The strike is set to coincide with the time of a company’s “Reimagine Tomorrow” event. This event was scheduled for March 2nd and these regular discussions are usually on topical issues and are held monthly. Tuesday is called “LGBTQ+ Employees, Leaders and Allies Get Disney Real”.

The invitation to the virtual event, which went out Thursday morning, reads: “Employees can expect an honest conversation about the following: How the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Act and other pending legislation will affect LGBTQ+ children and – families? LGBTQ+BERG leaders and allies organized internally to hold the company accountable? What does it take to restore trust with our employees and LGBTQ+ communities?”

It is unclear how many people will participate in Tuesday’s strike. Only a fraction of the employees started working on the site.

Disney has not commented on this article.

Chapek’s email to employees on Friday addressed the wider frustration.

He wrote: “Thank you to everyone who has contacted me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness at the company’s response to the Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Talking to you, reading your messages and meeting you helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just a matter of a Florida bill, but instead a new challenge to fundamental human rights. You needed me to stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I have disappointed you. I am sorry.”

He announced that the company is stepping up its support for advocacy groups to fight similar legislation to the “Don’t Say Gay” law in other states and ceasing all political donations in the state of Florida.


This post Disney Creatives Venture CEO Chapek’s Response to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill was original published at “https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/17/disney-creative-leaders-express-frustration-to-ceo-chapek-over-dont-say-gay-bill-response.html”

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