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Disney heir denounces Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill after coming out as trans

Disney's CEO has now apologised for his response to the legislation, which bans the discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels

A Walt Disney heir has denounced Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill after recently coming out as trans.

Charlee Corra Disney, 30, the child of Disney’s great-nephew, Roy P Disney, publicly came out at a gala event for the advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) where their family announced they would match donations to the HRC up to $500,000. 

In a statement, Roy P Disney said: “Equality matters deeply to us especially because our child, Charlee, is transgender and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.”

“I had very few openly gay role models”

Charlee has told the LA Times that they came out to their family four years ago, after previously identifying as gay. 

“I had very few openly gay role models. And I certainly didn’t have any trans or nonbinary role models. I didn’t see myself reflected in anyone, and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me,” said Charlee. 

They also said they couldn’t stand but while trans people’s lives are made harder. 

“To put something like this law on top of that? They can’t learn about their community and their history at school, or play sports or use the bathroom they want to use?” Charlee asked.

They and their family were deeply upset by the Florida legislation, which bans the teaching of LGBTQ issues and topics in the classroom for children aged 5-9 and anywhere where it is deemed “not age-appropriate”. 

This branch of the Disney family was also upset by the response from the Disney Corporation, which has led to numerous walkouts by Disney staff. 

Initially, Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, said in an internal memo, that Disney’s leadership stood “unequivocally” with the LGBTQ community but that corporate statements “do very little to change outcomes or minds”. 

Following a backlash, two days later he recognised that his previous statement “didn’t quite get the job done”. 

At the same time, the Human Rights Campaign rejected a donation from Disney demanding the company take “meaningful action” to combat the homophobic legislation. Disney had pledged $5 million to protect the LGBTQ community.

On 11 March Chapek apologised and in a letter to employees, he wrote: “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”

Following the signing of the bill into law at the end of March, Chapek said it “should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” and that it would work to repeal the law.

There was also outrage at records showing Republican lawmakers who crafted and sponsored the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill had been financially supported by Disney. Democrats had also had similar support.

State campaign finance records show that Disney Destinations LLC, Disney Gift Card Services Inc, and Disney Photo Imaging Inc. gave Joe Harding, a Republican who crafted the bill, $4,000 altogether (around £3,000)

Chapek has now said Disney will “pause all political donations” and reassess such things going forward.

Attitude’s new-look March/April issue is out now.