Florida’s controversial sexual education bill and Disney’s pledge to fight it have led to a series of unintended consequences for both parties. Where does the story turn next?
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Primer: Disney Takes Stance On Florida Legislation
For those who might not be familiar with the Disney/Florida battle, this section is a primer on what led to this week’s action. If you’re already in the know, skip to the “Future” section below for commentary about impact on visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.
Florida’s state legislature introduced bill CS/CS/HB 1557 – The Parental Rights in Education bill, referred to by opponents as “Don’t Say Gay.” As passed, the bill prohibits educators from teaching sexual education and gender identity in public schools from kindergarten through third grade. You can read the bill here, lines 97-101 reflect the controversy.
Disney came out against the bill after initially aiming to avoid the topic. For critics of the bill, Disney didn’t show its disapproval fast enough, for proponents of the bill, Disney’s eventual position was also problematic.
CEO, Bob Chepak, went a step further after realizing he’d not reacted quickly or publicly enough for either side and clarified the brand’s position. He scheduled a meeting with Florida Gov. DeSantis and Disney-employee advocates and attempted to donate $5MM to the Human Rights Commission. The HRC rejected the offer.
Florida Retaliates, Finds Unintended Consequences
A special session of the Florida legislature was called to retract Disney’s special tax district of its property around the central Florida area known as Reedy Creek Improvement District. This corporately-owned municipality had its own police and fire departments, and utilities management, and paid the same property taxes to the state as other similar residents. Here’s a state representative discussing the move,
“State Rep. Randy Fine told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday that the bill isn’t retaliatory but said “when Disney kicked the hornet’s nest, we looked at special districts.”
“People wanted to deal with the special district for decades,” he said. “Disney had the political power to prevent it for decades. What changed is bringing California values to Florida. Floridians said, ‘You are a guest. Maybe you don’t deserve the special privileges anymore.’” – CNBC
The bill passed and Disney quasi-lost its right to self-manage the municipality, though residents of the area (yes, there are residents) still have to vote to rejoin the rest of the population and end the Reedy Creek era. It would go into effect on June 1st if Gov. Ron DeSantis signs it into state law.
Losing the status, however, was a double-edged sword for the state. The special zone had taken out debt financing for improvements as many municipalities do. That means that if Reedy Creek is dissolved in the counties for which it resides, they also inherit the $1bn debt the area has accrued.
Future Moves Put Floridians, Visitors In Crosshairs
Wait, this is a travel blog right? Talk about travel. Got it.
Disney will certainly take any affront to its business as a threat and will likely return a gesture in kind. But what would a response to the Disney Florida bill (Reedy Creek) look like?
One suggested notion as to how Disney may respond to Florida is to never reinstate Florida-resident discount passes. These reduced pass prices make it possible for many Floridians to enjoy the park, and while they are a consistent source of revenue (both in monthly subscription revenue from the passes but also in ancillary revenue from park visits), the Disney board has been clear that they would prefer fewer discounted pass holders.
Another area where Disney may respond to Florida is in future investment. The house of mouse had announced plans for several large-scale Disney-themed communities with housing, shopping, and the overall Disney attention to detail that has made them famous. They do not have to invest in Florida, though a move like that would be less likely to punish the state as the brand has not yet announced plans outside of California.
Like Universal Studios, the brand had also announced low-cost housing options for employees to be built in the area separate and apart from its residential community. They could cancel this too but, again, that’s more likely to result in causing harm to Disney and its employees by its own decision-making, rather than hurt Florida for the development of the housing.
There’s always speculation of another “gate” (theme park) and with Universal’s Epic slated to open in the next couple of years, there will be pressure on Disney to maintain its dominance in the state. It currently operates twice the number of parks and water parks as Universal, though Epic will double Universal’s current footprint including resorts, water, and theme parks. However, Disney has not announced any current plans for an additional gate so without something to cancel, it’s hard to prove there would be a material effect felt by Florida legislature and residents.
If there’s one clear tool that Disney forever has in its back pocket, it is the insatiable demand of visitors. If Disney absorbs more costs, that will have an effect on visitors – there’s no way Disney will pay for any new tax structures. More money for Disney means less budget for families who might have otherwise visited other area attractions.
Disney CEO, Bob Chepak, has been under fire for his management of Disney long before this issue arose. The company has taken a stance, and the state responded, whether the two continue retaliating with both Floridians and visitors to Disney World in Orlando are left in the crosshairs.
I may be the only one left in the world who doesn’t think companies should take a stance on political matters at all. I shouldn’t have to make a choice on whether we spend time at Disney, Universal, or AMC theaters based on legislation they support or condemn. Regardless, Disney and Florida are going to have to find a way to get along, they are co-dependent and it appears it will be messy along the way for all parties involved.
What do you think? Will Disney and Florida pull back from the brink? Will a loss of investment by Disney, or special tax incentives by Florida be enough to end the battle?
It’s a fallacy that banning discussion of certain topics in grade school will produce results of any type. The influence from peers,media and ignorance will command control of young people when a topic is considered controversial. Spiritual emptiness leads to believe in anything packaged with a pretty appearance.
“It would go into effect on June 1st if Gov. Ron DeSantis signs it into state law.” (from above)
not true. note:
“The bill to unravel the special district would not take effect until June 2023, giving Disney and lawmakers an off-ramp.” — WaPo 4/21 and others
Many expect this was deliberate to allow issues to be worked out before implementation.
The bill prevents teachers from talking about guys, straight, bi, trans etc.. Only sick perverts think they need to talk to 6 year olds about sex.
If you think the bill only covers k-3 you haven’t read it and have been fed your talking points by the communist regime.
No one thinks you should teach sex-ed to 6 year old kids but a k-3 LGBQT+ teacher shouldn’t be allowed to mention they have a family to those they teach?
The only people who will benefit from the bill will be the lawyers,
You’re factually wrong; there are plenty of Progressives who want to teach 6 year olds about sexual orientation and gender identity. There are vast examples across the internet which only right wing media discusses. Just one example is the Muppet Babies TV show (ages 3-8) which talked about how it’s fine for boys to wear dresses. Also note that the bill covers “classroom instruction”. Why should a teacher be talking their personal LGBT issues in the classroom? I knew nothing about the personal lives of my elementary school teachers growing up.
Should a teacher be fired if they mention god or the Bible in a public school? How exactly would that work for a history teacher?
Do schools tolerate teachers proselytizing about religion? No. Why should parents be tolerating teachers proselytizing the new woke religion? They shouldn’t. Growing up in public school, I had no clue about the religious beliefs of my teachers. This shouldn’t be any different. As for history, why would children K-3 need any history lessons about LGBT issues?
I mean what’s wrong with boys wearing dresses? At a certain point in history all men were wearing powdered wigs and makeup. Clothes are just clothes.
Also “classroom instruction” is still an unconstitutionally broad category. I remember doing a family tree in first grade, and I imagine it might still be somewhat common. If one student in a first grade class brought in a family tree that had even just a pair of gay uncles on it and a parent found out and was offended, they would be entitled to sue the school and could possibly make the argument that the family tree project was a class assignment and thus falls into the category of classroom instruction. Even if the court ultimately throws it out as a ridiculous or even frivolous lawsuit, the school would still be out all of the legal fees they incurred to get the case dismissed, and the law would explicitly prohibit them from going after the parent for attorney’s fees, which is typically something they would have been be able to do in that circumstance otherwise.
You have no idea what the significance of wearing clothes of the opposite sex?? Then you obviously haven’t given it ay thought or I’m sure you cross dress every other day. Either way you’re exactly who parents in FL don’t want teaching their K-3 children about gender. Bringing up an example of how Europeans dressed from two hundred years ago is irrelevant -you mind as well bring up kilts. FL isn’t in Scotland, and we don’t live in England 200 years ago. You only prove my original point which is that many people are happy to teach 6 years old the new woke ideology of gender identity.
As a father, I have unfortunately watched a lot of muppet babies shows– if you are truly afraid of what your kids will learn from muppet babies, you have much bigger problems than some law in florida will solve.
I love the argument of “it should be the parent’s decision to teach certain things.” While that’s not incorrect, saying that and then giving your kid free reign on a cell phone makes me laugh. Most of these parents rely solely on schools to teach their kids. They’re just suddenly devout Christians because they believe they’re losing their rights
I’m so hurt by your insult – no, not really. Too bad you didn’t have anything to say about the point of the example – there are many Progressives eager to teach 6 years olds about sexual orientation and gender identity, including many people working on children’s shows at Disney. People who don’t realize this need to get their head out of the sand and look around.
I’m just not afraid of these things Al.
I’m not afraid of muppet babies, or someone telling my kids that some people are attracted to their same gender.
My kids aren’t snowflakes. We’re Catholics, and they go to Catholic school. They learn in first grade about the ritualistic torture and murder of Jesus, and about topics like slavery and gambling. If they can handle that, then muppet babies, disney shows, and someone telling them that some women love other women isn’t really going to move the needle.
As a parent, sounds like I should be really concerned about my kid seeing the 80 year old cartoons of Bugs Bunny disguising himself in a dress. This is just the type of instructional content that progressives are using to indoctrinate my children
Actual text: note the OR. Sex Ed for k to 3rd is only half of the key sentence.
“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.”
And if you are confused on what the hell the second half means? Well that is the point. Florida hopes it can just stifle everything out of fear.
Only idiots like Jase think they know what’s best for everyone.
You have a weak argument and it is clear you haven’t read the bill.
No one is trying to teach about sex. If a student has two moms, a teacher can’t acknowledge this or will be at risk for getting fired.
You gotta love the faux Christian conservatives that talk about less government involvement, but continually pass laws that restrict freedoms, ban books, and overreach
This is the worst Disney CEO ever. Incompetent and arrogant. Go woke, go broke!!!
Here, here! Let us now list off all of the companies that went woke and went broke!
I love that line….it’s perfect for the idiots that believe it. How will this bill lead Disney to go broke? Quite the contrary, it’s going to cause Floridians and the state coffers of Florida to go broke. Disney made Florida a tourist destination, and now has every reason to reverse that choice. They have to…..as well as other companies. What company is going to want to invest in Florida? What other fake issue will some other grifter misrepresent to their ignorant constituents and go after a single company? The stupidity of this short term political move is so stupid, it could only happen in Florida, although I am sure Texas is also working on their own version.
It won’t happen in a vacuum, but you watch, Disney’s future investments in Florida will be put on hold, and over time they will have to look to establish themselves elsewhere.
Any one that can add also understands that Disney stock dropped last week because of the news Netflix released about their subscriber growth. It has little to nothing to do with the asinine behavior of Floridian legislators last week…..and everything to do with the lack of growth or decrease in Disney + subscribers.
Disney parks are packed more than ever…..moves are printing money right & left…..and now the moronic lawmakers in Florida are handing Disney millions of more dollars.
Great move guys…..
I agree. Disney was planning on consolidating its Imagineer employees (aka those responsible for creating and designing everything for the theme parks) to Florida for efficiency. Part of the reason Chapek finally spoke up is a significant number of those employees (without which Disney parks would be no different than an average Six Flags) pushed back and he tried to mollify them. I doubt it worked, but after this, I bet Disney might be a lot more sympathetic to their cause if only as a way to show DeSantis what happens when you mess with them. At the very least, whatever reasons they had for wanting to consolidate Imagineers in Florida might not seem as compelling now.
“I may be the only one left in the world who doesn’t think companies should take a stance on political matters at all.”
This is naive at best. Everything is a political matter. Deciding what to speak and not speak is itself a political decision.
Exactly. Even if Disney had said nothing and just stopped donating to FL politicians, that would still be “political speech” protected by the First Amendment.
Agreed. The Republican party has no ideas (in fact, they have not had a platform or taken a stand as a party on ANY issue for years), and no interest in governing. It’s the Third Reich strategy to divide & conquer……stir up the masses on fake ‘issues’ to create chaos and politicize EVERYTHING but never actually govern. Governing requires work and new ideas, yet Republicans and their voters are too lazy to do either. Their answer to governing is to politicize everything…..from going to the restroom, going to a theme park, receiving a vaccine, and wearing a mask in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.
The irony of the Republican party to target an individual company after they pushed through the Citizens United Supreme Court case is true hypocrisy. Which they know won’t make a difference to their constituents because they are unable to think for themselves. Never underestimate how stupid the American population is…..
White Republican men leave corporate interests alone unless they don’t toe the political line or stop campaign contributions. Sounds like Putin’s Russia to me.
No wonder white Republican men are willing to engage in terrorism to have their way. Laws were always to keep others in line not necessarily to be followed by themselves.
The snowflakes have been canceling
textbooks left and right. Imagine that, a meltdown over math textbooks.
Yup the right says corporations are people when it comes to stopping limits on political contributions – limits their first amendment rights. But when those corporations speak in ways republicans don’t like, it’s not protected. Can’t have it both ways.
Image MATH textbooks that try to push CRT and other woke topics. Shouldn’t they teach, well, math? The examples of these MATH textbooks seen so far talk about everything but math or thinly veil it as a math discussion. “If 100% of white people are racist, how many aren’t?” wouldn’t be surprising to read in one of the books I’ve seen. It’s crazy and Disney should stick to entertainment, not sex.
There is not a single math book that pushes Critical Race Theory. Just as there’s probably very few textbooks in K-12 education for any subject that actually engages with Critical Race Theory. It’s not something you would encounter outside of advanced college/grad school level courses in certain areas or law school (which is mostly where it exists).
Stop trying to hide behind a bad faith attempt to tie evil academia to “wokeness.” The guy who made “CRT” a culture war issue openly admits he did it just to rule up the base and manipulate them into advocating his desired policies. Conservatives like that are literally playing you and others like you like fools to get you to do and support what they want they want you to do and support. Think for yourself instead of taking marching orders from the latest outrage of the week.
I guess though on the specific travel impacts. It makes little sense for Disney to antagonize locals. They want county support and good governance. So stuff like suspending local passes would be dumb. Maybe red tape now messes up employee housing but that is again dumb for both sides. I think it’s much more likely that things like the transfer of theme park jobs from California get stopped or suspended.
The really radical would be Disney opening a new park somewhere else in the US but that would be a huge step.
What you really mean is that companies shouldn’t take a political stance unless they agree with my tribe.
Disney messed up listening to a few freaks that work for them. You are correct they should stay out of these type things because a company can’t win.
As for how many Floridians are against this bill, you will have your answer in November when Gov Ron wins re-election with 56-58% of the vote. Even Dems don’t want 5 year olds being taught about anal sex.
It doesn’t matter if 100% of Floridians are in favor of this bill or DeSantis. I don’t know if you have heard of it, but we have this little thing called the Constitution. The First Amendment of the Constitution prohibits governmental bodies (the state of Florida in this case) from retaliating against someone for political speech (which in Disney’s case was the statement criticizing the Don’t Say Gay Bill and Disney’s decision to stop donating to FL politicians regardless of party).
Even if it’s not something everyone has a right to, like Disney’s quasi-municipal situation, the government still can’t just take it away because Disney made political speech it didn’t like. It would be the same thing if a restaurant owner criticized someone on the liquor board and a few days later that liquor board rescinded their liquor license. No one is entitled to a liquor license, but the government can’t suddenly decide to take one away because someone criticized it.
The same holds true for Disney. You as an individual can do whatever you want to “cancel” Disney by protesting/boycotting them. The Constitution prevents the State of Florida from doing so.
Bless you for bringing some actual reason into this and shining some light on the truth, Finally, someone here understands it.
Your homophobia is so transparent. Why are you and your legislatures so obsessed with anal sex? I’ve still not seen a single example of a school teaching any child about sex. You created this law to divert attention away from actually doing something that will help citizens of your state. But you people are too stupid to realize that. Which is why you continue to live in a swamp that is slowly sinking into the ocean, as will more slums thrown up along your artificial coastline. And now you’re attacking and trying to chase the one company that transformed your state, and who employs the most people. Tell me the name of one government or business that has gone up against Disney and won……right…..yes……I am still waiting.
Nice move guys….you’ve made your bed, and now you get to sink in it.
And didn’t your governor win his last election by about 32,000 votes out of over 8m? Real landslide……let’s see where he stands with voters in 6 months.
When Disney donated to DeSantis and other FL politicians in the first place, under current precedent that likely won’t be overturned by the current Supreme Court, that was political speech protected under the First Amendment. Personally and politically, I have some issues with that, but as a lawyer, I understand its the law. As a result, I also understand how many opponents of the Don’t Say Gay bill saw Disney’s silence, combined with donations to DeSantis and other FL politicians who supported the bill, just as much of a political statement as supporters of the bill saw Chapek’s actual statement with words against the bill when Disney pulled all donations to FL politicians. Personally I think the government should not be able to give special treatment for big donors, but that’s not how the First Amendment works. Unless something changes at the Supreme Court, corporations have as much right to get involved in politics as anyone else. You can’t be mad at Disney for vocally criticizing the Don’t Say Gay bill because they got “political” unless you also have a problem with them staying silent about it while donating massive amounts of money to DeSantis and other supporters of the bill in the FL government. They were both examples of Disney “getting political,” and to call out one instead of the other shows that someone is ok with discriminating against speech based on their own viewpoint, which the First Amendment clearly prohibits.
If you’d like a good marker of how “great” Disney’s been for locals, watch The Florida Project…..or drive down 192….or into Kissimmee (just not after 8pm for safety) This is long past due. Local Democrat pols (both Demings, Dyer and Randolph) have enjoyed eating at the Disney troth for too long. Disney kicked the wrong hornets nest and Desantis had the balls to do something about it. Understand though that this measure passed BOTH houses of the Florida Legislature. Desantis only signed it. Shows over folks.
Show’s far from over. This is an obvious violation of Disney’s First Amendment rights. When Disney spoke out against the Don’t Say Gay Bill, you or any other American was free to criticize them or stop spending money on Disney things or “cancel them”. Ron DeSantis and the State of Florida, however, cannot without violating the Constitution that they hypocritically profess to love so much.
Again, a duly elected Legislature acting on behalf its constituents voted on and passed this measure. Desantis merely signed it into law. I must say however that I am impressed by you libs taking up for a multi-billion dollar corporation who pays “slave wages” as you like to call it. What happened to “Tax the Rich” and “Make Corporations Pay”? These capitalist powerhouses ARE the enemy……right?
And members of the Florida legislature are also on the record saying they were doing this to punish Disney, which means it’s prohibited by the 1st Amendment. Also, the reason is lobs find this problematic is that if DeSantis and his goons are willing to unconstitutionally punish Disney for political speech, when they are a global institution and the largest employer in Florida, what does that portend for the rest of us who might not agree with Republicans in the future?
If the shoe were on the other foot, you’d have absolutely no problem with it….and you know it. So “Corporations Are People” again I see….You’ll get me to believe that as soon as Texas straps one into the electric chair. Desantis didn’t punish Disney. He reigned in (G)Reedy Creek….a sweetheart arrangement set up to enable Disney to circumvent local regulations and more importantly local voters. RCID were the “tax assessors” of Disney property……Funny how Disney property (according to tax assessments) was the only property on the planet to actually LOSE value last year. Hmmmmm. Let’s blow open Reedy Creeks books….their REAL books. This was long overdue and Disney found the right guy to eff with.
CHRIS, once again you as a Floridian are proving your ignorance (that’s a nice way of saying stupidity), and mixing apples and oranges. First of all, the Citizens United case was pushed through the courts and championed by the Republican party so that they (and primarily the Koch brothers) can buy elections. So you can’t have it both ways (you being an ignorant Republican). So Disney had every right under the US Constitution to do what it did. And targeting a individual company and punishing them might work for you as a Republican in Florida, but it does not work and is not legal under the US Constitution (which at least for the foreseeable future Florida is subject to). And second, pertaining to the decrease in value of the Disney parks in 2020/2021 during a worldwide pandemic makes perfect sense. What doesn’t make sense is why you, and other Floridians like yourself continue to show the world how misinformed, ignorant, and generally just how wrong you are?
I’m fascinated by the display of ignorance and much like Trump, how proud you are to show the world.
The Governor’s move is certainly political. On the other hand, I’ve seen no discussion on whether a company should be allowed to run local government. The original move suggests that government is wasteful and inefficient because Disney could run it for less. Disney certainly wouldn’t want to run it for more money because then it would be better to not have it.
I see local government as sometimes being terrible for zoning and building permits. The cost of doing business in Vancouver, BC, Canada is so high that builders don’t want to build. Houses must be single family homes. This has resulted in the average home being close to $2M. The cheapest Vancouver house is $1M and that is really shabby and in disrepair. Some US cities are equally bad as far as city government. One city requires that all new construction and major remodels prove that they did not create a mountain to get around the height limitation (equals about 2-3 floors). That same city requires acoustic testing to make sure than the furnace isn’t as loud as a jet engine, which it never is.
First, Reedy Creek Improvement District has it’s own fire department. It has security guards, much like Target and Walmart, but does not have it’s own police force (Law Enforcement has always been handled by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office).
Second, Most of us in Central Florida, even with the residence passes find Disney park’s pricing has gotten out of control over the last few years. We canceled our annual passes a few years ago and haven’t been back since.
Thierd, If you think there are going to be more “large scale Disney themed communities” going up after the Celebration debacle, well good luck with that…
Florida would be better off without Disney in it’s current form. Florida has plenty to bring in tourists to the state, there are millions who visit every year and go no where near the theme parks.
Perhaps the silver lining to all this, is that other companies will learn to just take my money and deliver my product and otherwise STFU.
Today, 40% of french voters decided to continue the long stupid tradition of bending over for a russian pounding, a tradition dating as far back as napoleon.
The remaining 60% were smarter and defeated the 40%. Yet the 40% didn’t storm the elysee palace because they thought the election was stolen. The fyxkface McConnell, asslicker Graham, bootlicker cruz and countless other terrorists and terrorist supporters amongst white Republican men should learn how civilized people live from the examples in the world around them.
Florida is just another example of white Republican men doing whatever it takes to win, even changing the laws. They might even storm Disneyland and set it on fire. Do you really think it is completely out of realm of possibilities after jan/6 for these uncivilized people to do this?
I don’t share the same values as Chick-Fil-A, but I would never want a law enacted in retaliation to their corporate stance.
Also, I’ve yet to be presented with a single example of adolescent/adult sex education (e.g. anal sex, oral sex, etc.) being taught to kindergarterners or even third graders. That would be highly inappropriate. But since this law was intentionally written to be very vague, it’s obviously targeting a marginalized group which goes against Disney’s corporate values. Now time to book another Disneyworld trip!
I love watching liberals defend a mega corporation’s special tax exemption status.
For Michael….a good read about these “special districts”