An anonymous open letter credited to Disney employees accuses The Walt Disney Company of creating an “environment of fear” while also claiming the company is vilifying their own audience.
The letter begins, “As employees of the Walt Disney Company, we believe in the dignity of all people. This is why we do what we do. We write stories. We make costumes. We act in parades. We run cruises. We stream movies. We make magic.”
“We do this because our work contributes to a fountain of wonder that inspires joy, awe, and delight in guests and audiences of all ages. We are proud employees of the Walt Disney Company. We love our jobs because we get to share the wonder of life and human experience with millions of people worldwide,” it continues.
The letter then asserts, “However, over the last few years, one group of cast members has become invisible within the company. The Walt Disney Company has come to be an increasingly uncomfortable place to work for those of us whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive.”
“We watch quietly as our beliefs come under attack from our own employer, and we frequently see those who share our opinions condemned as villains by our own leadership,” it declares.
It goes on, “The company’s evolving response to the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation in Florida has left many of us wondering what place we have in a company actively promoting a political agenda so far removed from our own. TWDC leadership frequently communicates its commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where cast members feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and being their authentic selves at work. That is not our workplace experience.”
“Over the last few weeks, we have watched as our leadership has expressed their condemnation for laws and policies we support,” the employees profess. “We have watched as our colleagues, convinced that no one in the company could possibly disagree with them, grow increasingly aggressive in their demands. They insist that TWDC take a strong stance on not only this issue but other legislation and openly advocate for the punishment of employees who disagree with them.”
They then revealed, “An internal poll within the company went out a few months ago asking us if we felt accepted in the company. Many of us didn’t complete it because the nature of the questions made us worry that the results of the poll could be used to target us for quietly holding a position that runs against the progressive orthodoxy that Disney seems to promote.”
“TWDC has fostered an environment of fear that any employee who does not toe the line will be exposed and dismissed,” the employees claim.
“Much has been made of our internal efforts to Reimagine Tomorrow, but as much as diversity and inclusion are promoted, the tomorrow being reimagined doesn’t seem to have much room for religious or political conservatives within the company,” they stress. “Left-leaning cast members are free to promote their agenda and organize on company time using company resources. They call their fellow employees ‘bigots’ and pressure TWDC to use corporate influence to further their left-wing legislative goals.”
The Disney employees then attest, “Meanwhile, those of us who don’t align with this vision keep our heads down and do our work without bringing our personal beliefs into the workplace. We’ve done this without complaint because we don’t want to rock the boat, but the boat is being rocked, and our leadership seems compelled to reward those who are rocking it.”
“Employees who want TWDC to make left-wing political statements are encouraged, while those of us who want the company to remain neutral can say so only in a whisper out of fear of professional retaliation,” the letter contends. “The company we love seems to think we don’t exist or don’t belong here. This politicization of our corporate culture is damaging morale and causing many of us to feel our days with TWDC might be numbered.”
“Furthermore, as this politicization makes its way into our content and public messaging, our more conservative customers will feel similarly unwanted. You can only preach at or vilify your audience for so long before they decide to spend their money elsewhere,” the letter declares.
“Working for The Walt Disney Company is a dream come true,” they profess. “We love being part of creating the magic that so many people around the world enjoy. Our storytelling is second to none. It resonates with people from all walks of life across the political spectrum.”
“Our parks are the source of joy and inspiration that Walt hoped they would become. Every year, millions of guests escape an increasingly divided world to a place where they can relive fond memories of the past and savor the challenge and promise of the future. They do this alongside thousands of other guests that might not have anything in common with them other than a shared love of Disney,” the letter states.
“The unique brand of family entertainment that Disney is known for is an objective good in this dark world,” the letter declares. “It brings people together and provides cultural touchpoints that even the worst enemies can unite over.”
It then provides examples, “At the height of COVID lockdowns in the Summer of 2020 when the country was fiercely divided over a range of issues, Hamilton provided us something to collectively celebrate. At the end of an incredibly contentious election year, The Mandalorian was there to soothe a weary nation with non-political entertainment we could all enjoy no matter who you voted for.”
“When Disney takes sides in political debates, they deprive the world of a shared love we all have in common,” the employees contend. “TWDC is uniquely situated to provide experiences and entertainment that can bridge our national divide and bring us all together.”
“CEO, Bob Chapek had the right idea in his original statement that he has since walked back,” the employees argue. “In Chapek’s own words, ‘As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. … Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.’ Disney is far more important and impactful to the world by avoiding politics than it will ever be by embracing a political agenda. By focusing on entertainment that inspires us with stories of universal appeal, we are doing good in the world.”
It concludes, “Disney shouldn’t be a vehicle for one demographic’s political activism. It’s so much bigger and more important than that. More than ever, the world needs things that we can unite around. That’s the most valuable role The Walt Disney Company could play in the world at this time. It’s a role we’ve played for nearly a century, and it would be a shame to throw all of that away in the face of left-wing political pressure. Please don’t let Disney become just another thing we divide over.”
This letter comes in response to The Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Chapek’s recent stance on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill or HB 1577 that states in part, “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The bill also prevents school districts from adopting “procedures or student support forms that prohibit school district personnel from notifying a parent about his or her student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being, or a change in a related services or monitoring, or that encourage or have the effect of encouraging a student to withhold from a parent such information.”
The bill also requires “each school district [to] notify parents of each healthcare service offered at their student’s school and the option to withhold consent or decline any specific service.”
Parents must also be notified of any well-being questionnaire or health screening form provided to students in kindergarten through third grade. The parents must be given the questionnaire or health screening form and approve of it before the school can administer it to the students.
If any of these provisions are violated, the bill provides a method of redress for parents beginning with the school district and escalating to a full blown lawsuit.
The Walt Disney Company and Bob Chapek originally tried to paint themselves as a neutral party claiming they would not be taking a public stance on the bill.
However, that would end up being a complete and utter lie as Bob Chapek revealed to shareholders at Disney’s 2022 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, “While we’ve been strong supporters of the community for decades I know many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill. Now, 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, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”
“And we were hopeful that our long-standing relationships with those lawmakers would enable us to achieve a better outcome, but despite weeks of effort we were ultimately unsuccessful,” he admitted.
Chapek then detailed, “I called Governor DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if legislation becomes law it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary, and transgender kids and families.”
“The Governor heard our concerns and agreed to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address them,” he added.
The CEO would follow-up those comments with a company-wide email pledging his and the company’s full support to the LGBTQ+ movement.
In the email, he first apologized to LGBTQ+ employees writing, “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”
Chapek then declared, “We are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review.”
He concluded the email asserting, “I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community. I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on —and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.”
More recently at an emergency townhall meeting, Reuters reported that Bob Chapek said, “We know the moment requires urgency – and words are not enough. So we are taking some actions right now.”
One of those actions is creating an LGBTQ+ task force led by Paul Roeder, Disney’s Senior Vice President of Communications for Walt Disney Studios, and Lisa Becket, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products’ Vice President of Global Marketing.
Reuters’ Dawn Chmielewski explained “the task force will enlist the help of experts to develop a concrete plan to ensure Disney is ‘force for good’ for LGBTQ+ communities, especially children and family.”
On top of this task force, Disney will be allocating their resources to combat Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s instruction to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate sex change procedures performed on children as child abuse.
In his letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Abbot wrote, “Consistent with our correspondence in August 2021, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has now confirmed in the enclosed opinion that a number of so-called “sex change” procedures constitute child abuse under existing Texas law. Because the Texas Department of Family and Protective
Services (DFPS) is responsible for protecting children from abuse, I hereby direct your agency to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.”
It continues, “As OAG Opinion No. KP-0401 makes clear, it is already against the law to subject Texas children to a wide variety of elective procedures for gender transitioning, including reassignment surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen.”
“Texas law imposes reporting requirements upon all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse,” Governor Abbot wrote. “There are similar reporting requirements and criminal penalties for members of the general public.”
“Texas law also imposes a duty on DFPS to investigate the parents of a child who is subjected to these abusive gender-transitioning procedures, and on other state agencies to investigate licensed facilities where such procedures may occur. To protect Texas children from abuse, DFPS and all other state agencies must follow the law as explained in OAG Opinion No. KP-0401,” the letter concludes.
What do you make of this letter from Disney employees?