Newsom Asks Disney to Relocate Jobs Back to CA Over Florida LGBTQ Bill

Walt Disney World Main Street USA

Photo: Getty Images

Governor Gavin Newsom has encouraged The Walt Disney Co. to reconsider its plans to relocate 2,000 jobs from Southern California to a new campus in Florida. In a tweet, Newsom said “Disney, the door is open to bring those jobs back to California – the state that actually represent the values of your workers.”

Florida moves closer to cementing its “Parental Rights in Education” bill, often referred to by the LGBTQ community as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would limit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

The Walt Disney Co. announced the move of its campus last summer, noting that Florida’s lack of income tax and low cost of living influenced their decision. A Disney spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment following Newsom’s proposition.

Newsom’s office said it welcomes Disney and all companies “to expand and grow in California because it is the best place to do business.” The statement continues, “California’s economy is the 5th largest in the world because it fosters creativity, diversity, inclusion and innovation. The success of our state is because of those values, and a reason why so many of the world’s leading companies are found in California.”

Disney’s lack of response to Florida’s bill has provoked anger and frustration among LGBTQ cast members. “We are writing because we are disappointed, hurt, afraid and angry,” they said in a statement attributed to the LGBTQ employees of Pixar and their allies. “In regards to Disney’s financial involvement with legislators behind the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, we hopes that our company would show up for us. But it didn’t.”

The “Parental Rights Education” bill was passed by the Florida Legislature earlier this month, with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signaling his intention to sign it into law. Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek issued a public statement on Friday, ensuring that the company was taking the matter seriously and would pause all political donations in the state of Florida pending a review.

“I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community,” said Chapek in a statement. “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.”

Disney has pledged $5 million to LGBTQ rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, though the HRC says it won’t accept the donation until the company takes an oppositional stance to anti-LGBTQ legislation at the state level.

“The Human Rights Campaign will not accept this money from Disney until we see them build on their public commitment and work with LGBTQ+ advocates to ensure that dangerous proposals, like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay or Trans bill, don’t become dangerous laws, and if they do, to work to get them off the books,” said the organization’s interim president Joni Madison in a statement. “This should be the beginning of Disney’s advocacy efforts rather than the end.”

Disney, in a response statement, said they “remain committed to meaningful action to combat legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community.”

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