The Walt Disney Company has announced that a portion of the sales expected from their upcoming 2022 Pride Merch collection will be donated to an organization that has been promoting the teaching of LGBTQ curriculums in public schools for the last 20 years.
This intent to donate was announced by Disney in a recent update to their “Pride Collection” webpage made in service of updating customers on “some of the organizations” that would receive a portion of the proceeds from the entertainment conglomerate’s upcoming 2022 LGBTQ-themed merch offerings.
Listed among these organizations is GLSEN (pronounced “glisten”), an LGBTQ-education advocacy group who has “collaborated [with Disney] for more than 20 years with support going towards various GLSEN programs.”
According to Disney, the group will use the money “to deepen the impact of student leadership programs and racial equity capacity-building across the GLSEN network.”
GLSEN also notes that some of the funds would also go towards supporting programs such as their National Student Council, a sponsored youth leadership program committed to “elevating the voices of marginalized groups within the LGBTQ community”, and their Freedom Fellowship, which prioritize skill-building, studying [one of five] region’s social justice movement history, and exploring organizing opportunities regionally that can make schools a safer place for LGBTQ+ students.”
In 2020, Disney donated $100,000 to GLSEN in support of their work as part of that year’s ‘Pride Month’.
If you’ve never heard of them, GLSEN – or the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network – is a lobbying firm that was founded in 1990 with the goal of pushing for LGBTQ education in the U.S. public school system.
The organization is seen by some as one of the main groups responsible for such ideology becoming prevalent in K-12 education.
School advocacy group Parents Defending Education reports on their website that GLSEN’s work has directly influenced “teacher trainings”, “school policy guides”, and “curriculum” across schools nationwide.
As listed on GLSEN’s official website, some of the group’s lesson plans are intended for students as young as kindergarten, ensuring they are exposed to “examples and use language that includes a variety of family structures including LGBTQ-headed families” and encouraging them to “address identity and reflections around gender stereotypes”.
A suggested lesson for upper elementary students in grades 3-5 is GLSEN’s “Identity Flowers“, which “encourages students to explore their own identities and personal experiences with race, culture, ability, family structure, religion or spirituality, and gender identity and expression.”
As part of this exercise, teachers are instructed to “Tell students, ‘Gender identity is how you identify and see yourself. You may identify as a girl or a boy. If you don’t feel like a boy or a girl, you might just identify as a person. Maybe none of these words feel like you today. Or maybe you feel like a girl or a boy today, but later that word doesn’t seem to fit. It’s your brain, and you tell us and the rest of the world what feels right to you.'”
For students in grades 6-8, teachers are instructed to “[be] mindful of vocabulary and use visuals such as GLSEN’s Gender Triangle to distinguish between gender identity, gender expression, and bodies.”
“Educators teach about biology and the human bodies in ways that does not reinforce gender binaries, and includes intersex people,” they explain. “For example, when having conversations involving chromosomes, highlight how not all people born with XX chromosomes identify as women to distinguish between sex, gender, and gender identity. LGBTQ identities are present when discussing healthy relationships, boundaries, and consent.”
The Gender Triangle, as detailed on the group’s website, is “an educational tool to highlight the main components that revolve around gender identity—our bodies, how we use our bodies to express ourselves, and how the world around us reads our bodies based on the cultural and social codes of our time and place.”
Once they reach high school, teachers are encouraged to go through the organization’s “Learning Empowerment and Self-Identification” course, wherein students are taught “to explore how self-identification can be empowering, and have discussions about what it means to be proud of the labels and identities that we all hold,” as well as “the damage that can be done when someone applies labels to another person without that person’s permission (consent).”
High schoolers are also recommended to “learn about sex, gender, and gender identity using a diverse representation.”
“Educators can acknowledge how western culture traditionally views reproduction (between cisgender men and a women) and how many stories are different from that ‘traditional view,'” says GLSEN. “Include the identity and history of scientific figures in relevant lessons, such as Alan Turing in a biology lesson or Sally Ride in a physics lesson around velocity and trajectory.
The group’s recommendation continues, “Sexual health educators check in with students to answer questions and ensure that they are receiving information and is relevant to them. Word problems in Chemistry and physics can be another opportunity to highlight LGBTQ people, families, and relationships.”
Notably, GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers was one of the many progressive voices who condemned Disney CEO Bob Chapek for his initial decision to remain silent over Florida’s passing of the Parental Rights in Education Bill, which has since been enshrined into law.
“We have an expectation that those we partner with would not work against us, but the silence against this hateful bill from Disney CEO Bob Chapek until public pressure forced a reaction speaks volumes and we are angry and deeply disappointed,” she said.
In Jaunary 2022, Willingham-Jaggers told NBC News that she sees schools as a “breeding ground” for activism.
“LGBTQ+ young people in schools and their student groups, like GSAs, have always been the hub, kind of the breeding ground, the soil from which these sparks of activism come up.” she said. “What we understand is that young people are going to help us understand the vision forward and the way forward to the future.”
Disney’s deep ties with the LGBTQ lobby were exposed in the wake of their aforementioned battle with the state of Florida.
Many Disney executives have discussed efforts to include more LGBT content in the company’s children’s programming, most prominently Disney’s President of General Entertainment Content Karey Burke.
In a leaked video, the executive can be heard admitting to pushing LGBTQ content in children’s programming.
“I’m here as a mother of two queer children,” Burke says during a general company meeting. “One transgender child and one pansexual child. And also as a leader. And that was the thing that got me because I have heard so much from so many of my colleagues throughout the last couple of weeks in open forums and through emails and phone conversations. I feel a responsibility to speak, not just for myself but for them.”
SCOOP: Disney corporate president Karey Burke says, "as the mother [of] one transgender child and one pansexual child," she supports having "many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories" and wants a minimum of 50 percent of characters to be LGBTQIA and racial minorities. pic.twitter.com/oFRUiuu9JG
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 29, 2022
Latoya Ravenau, an executive producer for Disney Television Animation, has also revealed that she has turned to inserting as much LGBTQ content as possible in her series as part of her “not-at-all secret gay agenda.”
“In my little pocket of Proud Family Disney TVA, the showrunners were super welcoming. Meredith Roberts and our leadership over there have been so welcoming to my not-at-all-secret gay agenda,” she declared.
SCOOP: I've obtained video from inside Disney's all-hands meeting about the Florida parental rights bill, in which executive producer Latoya Raveneau says her team has implemented a "not-at-all-secret gay agenda" and is regularly "adding queerness" to children's programming. pic.twitter.com/eJnZMpKIXT
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 29, 2022
She added, “Maybe it was that way in the past, but I guess something must have happened in the last, they are turning it around, they’re going hard, and then like all that momentum that I felt, that sense of ‘I don’t have to be afraid to have these two characters kiss in the background.’
“I was just, wherever I could, just basically adding queerness,” Ravenau said. “If you see anything queer in the show — no one would stop me, and no one was trying to stop me.”
What are your thoughts about Disney’s relationship with GLSEN and funding LGBTQ “education” in public schools?