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DeSantis: Former Disney CEO Complained to Me About Woke Left Pressuring Him to Oppose Parental Rights Bill

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote in his new book “The Courage to Be Free” that then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek told him he really did not want to come out against the parental rights legislation that DeSantis signed into law last spring, but the left pressured him to do so.

HB 1557 prohibits classroom instruction regarding “sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade “or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for older students. Left-wing activists labeled HB 1557 the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, though the legislation has no such wording.

Fox News reported that DeSantis writes in his book, “As the controversy over the Parental Rights in Education bill was coming to a head, Chapek called me. He did not want Disney to get involved, but he was getting a lot of pressure to weigh in against the bill.”

“We get pressured all the time,” Chapek explained to DeSantis. “But this time is different. I haven’t seen anything like this before.”

The governor said he advised Chapek not to involve Disney in the matter.

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“When I sign it, you will get another 48 hours of outrage, mostly online,'” DeSantis told the CEO. “Then there will be some new outrage that the woke mob will focus on and people will forget about this issue, especially considering the outrage is directed at a political-media narrative, not the actual text of the legislation itself.”

Chapek told Disney shareholders on March 9, 2022, that he had called the Florida governor and voiced his opposition to the Parental Rights in Education bill and apologized for not getting the company involved sooner.

“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,” Chapek recounted to shareholders, according to WOFL-TV.

“I understand that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill. 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,” he said.

Should Disney have opposed Florida's parental rights bill?

At that point, the Florida Senate had already passed HB 1557 in a 22-17 vote and the state House had voted 69-47 for the measure, so DeSantis’ signature was all that was required for it to become law.

DeSantis told Fox News host Mark Levin on his Sunday night program that as governor and the father of a 6-, 4- and 2-year-old, his primary concern was protecting the innocence of kids.

“When this issue came up with the sexualization of the curriculum, of course in Florida we think that that’s inappropriate,” the Republican said.

DeSantis gave credit to the left for trying the Disney angle to get him not to sign the bill “because for 60 years in the state of Florida they have gotten every single thing they want from the state of Florida until I became governor, and we said, ‘No, you’re not running the state of Florida; we’re running the state of Florida.'”

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To prove that point, DeSantis signed legislation ending Disney’s special self-governing status the month after signing the parental rights bill.

On Monday, he signed an additional bill requiring the governor to appoint “a five-member board to oversee the government services that the Disney district provides,” The Associated Press reported.

“Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end,” DeSantis said at a bill-signing ceremony in Lake Buena Vista. “There’s a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day.”


He told Levin, “If a company’s going to go down the road of thinking that this stuff should be in their programming, you cannot have a relationship where you’re joined at the hip with that company.”

The City Journal’s Christopher Rufo obtained video from a Disney meeting about the parental rights bill in March 2022 in which Latoya Raveneau, an executive producer for Disney Television Animation, says the company was very welcoming of her “not-at-all-secret gay agenda.”

“I was just, wherever I could, just basically adding queerness,” she said. “No one would stop me, and no one was trying to stop me.”

Disney also reinserted a lesbian kiss scene (that reportedly had been removed) in its feature animated movie “Lightyear,” released last June, as a kind of an in-your-face gesture to Florida lawmakers and DeSantis.

Following the Florida controversy and disappointing box office numbers for “Lightyear” and some other Disney films, the company’s board fired Chapek in November and replaced him with former CEO Bob Iger.

Upon taking the helm, Iger said he planned to “quiet things down” on the political front, though at an employee town hall in November appeared to commit to continue including LGBT storylines in Disney productions.

A version of this article originally appeared on Patriot Project.

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