A group of LGBTIQ+ employees within Pixar Animation Studios have accused Disney executives of cutting “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection” from their films.
The queer employees and allies wrote a blistering open letter to Disney management, calling out their response to Florida’s homophobic so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The legislation cracks down on “classroom instruction” on sexual orientation or gender identity. It allows parents to sue schools over violations.
The Republican bill targets students at third grade or below. However critics say its vague and broad language extends to all year levels and exposes all teachers to possible lawsuits.
Equality Florida have condemned the “dangerous” bill for deliberately “stigmatising LGBTQ people and isolating LGBTQ kids.”
Earlier this week, the law passed its final vote in the state’s Senate. Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis now has to sign it into law.
Disney drawn into backlash over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
Before that vote, Disney copped backlash after it emerged the company donated to some of the politicians driving the bill.
In a memo, Disney CEO Bob Chapek defended not publicly opposing the bill.
He said the company felt it could be “more effective” lobbying against it “behind the scenes”.
“Corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds,” he said.
“Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.”
Chapek said the “entire leadership team unequivocally stand in support of our LGBTQ+ employees”. He said he did not want anyone to “mistake a lack of a statement for a lack of support.”
But he added that the “biggest impact” they can make “in creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce.”
Pixar employees accuse Disney bosses of censorship
However, the Pixar employees have blown the whistle and in an open letter claim the company fails to do this.
“We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were,” the letter reads.
“Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest. [Even] when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.
“Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.”
The Pixar employees said as recently as 2016, Disney had publicly – and successfully – lobbied against discriminatory legislation in the US.
And just days earlier, the company pulled its films from Russia due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the letter, the Pixar employees demand Disney “immediately withdraw all financial support from the legislators behind the ‘don’t say gay’ bill.”
“Fully denounce this legislation publicly, and [make] amends for its financial involvement,” they wrote.
“Disney claims to care for the welfare of children. But supporting politicians like this directly hurts one of their most vulnerable audiences.
“There are lives at stake and Disney’s support could save those lives.”
President Joe Biden slams ‘hateful’ Florida bill
In February, US President Joe Biden condemned the “hateful” Florida bill and spoke directly to queer students.
“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community – especially the kids who’ll be impacted by this hateful bill – to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” he said.
“I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
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