Disney CEO Bob Iger Talks ‘Don’t Say Gay’, LGBTQ Inclusion at Town Hall

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Bob Iger poses with Mickey Mouse as he attends Mickey’s 90th Spectacular at The Shrine Auditorium on October 6, 2018 in Los Angeles.

Valerie Megan | AFP | Good pictures

Following criticism over its past handling of LGBTQ issues, Disney CEO Bob Iger told employees Monday that inclusion and acceptance are “core values” of the company’s storytelling.

The comments come after Disney faced criticism under previous CEO Bob Chabeck for its handling of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which banned instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Disney’s recent inclusion of gay characters in animated films has also drawn criticism from anti-LGBTQ activists.

“This company has been telling stories for 100 years, and those stories have had a meaningful, positive impact on the world, and one of the reasons they’ve had a meaningful, positive impact is because of one of our core values ​​of storytelling. And acceptance and tolerance, and we can’t lose that,” Iger said Monday. said.

The Florida-Disney battle has cost taxpayers more than $1 billion

Iger also said that some issues that have proven controversial should not be considered political.

“I don’t think it’s political when you’re telling stories and trying to be a good citizen of the world,” he said, according to sources who heard the event and asked to remain anonymous because it was not open to the public.

With the Florida bill, Chabeck said he initially decided not to talk about the measure because he wanted to work “behind the scenes” to engage with lawmakers. However, his silence has led opponents of the bill to believe that Disney is complacent.

While Chabeck later came out against the bill, his statements angered Florida lawmakers, including Governor Ron DeSantis, who led the state to pass a bill to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek Development District, which was established in 1967. and be primarily responsible for the cost of municipal services such as electricity, water and fire protection.

The retaliation is set to take effect in June 2023, meaning Disney will now have to go to local counties for construction projects like hotels and theme park expansions. This also means that local districts are responsible for all municipal services and debt of the district.

On Monday, Iger told staff that the impending dissolution is moving even faster in the Reedy Creek district.

“I’m sorry to see that we’ve been dragged into that war, and I don’t know what the consequences will be,” he told staff.

Additionally, Iger addressed the company’s previously announced plans to relocate more than 2,000 jobs from California to Florida, noting that the move has been delayed until 2026 and that the company is still finalizing details on which jobs will move. He said he was not reversing the decision to transfer these jobs, but was looking into the proposed transfer.

Another major controversy involves Disney’s animation studios, which have begun to include more LGBTQ characters as part of efforts by Pixar and Disney Animation to produce stories that include more diverse characters and cultures.

Ahead of the June release of “Lightyear,” the company made headlines after Pixar creatives were able to reinstate a same-sex kiss that had been cut from the film. Its new animated release “Strange World” also features a main character who is gay and has a crush on a boy.

Disney was praised for including such characters, but while receiving backlash from some conservative critics many felt the company did not do enough to support those decisions.

On Monday, Iger pointed to films like “Black Panther” and “Coco” as examples of Disney projects that have “changed the world for the better.” Iger said the company’s creative decisions won’t please everyone, but its studios won’t compromise their core values.

“It’s complicated, there’s a balance,” he said.

Igar The company also announced plans to stop hiring during the town hallFocus on making its streaming platforms profitable and reevaluate the company’s overall organizational structure.


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