Florida GOP vs Disney: Company could have privileges revoked after opposing ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Florida conservatives plan to yank Disney’s privileges for its political activism over the controversial 'Don’t Say Gay' bill

                            Florida GOP vs Disney: Company could have privileges revoked after opposing ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
Disney employees stage a company-wide walkout to protest Walt Disney's response to controversial legislation passed in Florida known as the 'Don’t Say Gay Bill' (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Florida GOP leaders are threatening to pull out Disney’s quasi-governmental privileges at its Orlando-based theme park for their outspoken advocacy against the Republican-led "Parental Rights in Education" bill. 
Florida representative Spencer Roach took to Twitter on Wednesday, March 30, to reveal that meetings have been held to “discuss a repeal” of the Reedy Creek Improvement District agreement that “allows Disney to act as its own government.”



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Argument over Reedy Creek Improvement District agreement

The arrangement was in place to initially attract Disney to Florida back in 1967. The arrangement allowed the company to control some operations such as law enforcement and fire units. The 1967 act, signed by then Gov Claude Kirk, a Republican, created the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which encompasses about 25,000 acres in Orange and Osceola counties. To make Disney’s plan of a theme park happen, the area had to get special privileges from the state of Florida to essentially run itself. But now as the California-based entertainment giant has vowed to stop donating to Florida’s Republican political campaigns over the controversial legislation branded the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the feud between the two has escalated.

Gov Ron DeSantis floated the idea on Thursday, March 31, of changing the Florida law to revoke the Walt Disney Company’s right to self-rule. DeSantis said the point was to take away the power of “woke” corporations from interfering in Florida politics. He also said: “I don’t think it’s retaliatory; I just think that Disney’s posturing has alienated a lot of people now. And so, the political influence they’re used to wielding, I think, has dissipated, so the question is ‘Why would you want to have special privileges in the law, at all?'” The bill’s sponsor and Republican member Joe Harding said he was returning $3,000 in campaign contributions from Disney in light of its stand on the matter. Additionally, the Orlando vacation destination may see boycotts from conservatives for its political activism.

People protest in front of Florida State Senator Ileana Garcia's (FL-R) office after the passage of the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


What is the 'Don't Say Gay' Bill?


The name “Don’t Say Gay” bill has been given by the activists to the legislation after it got initial approval from Florida senators on Tuesday, February 8. The bill is about “requiring district school boards to adopt procedures that comport with certain provisions of law for notifying a student’s parent of specified information; requiring such procedures to reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner.”
The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Dennis Baxley, also mentions “prohibiting a school district from adopting procedures or student support forms that require school district personnel to withhold from a parent specified information or that encourage or have the effect of encouraging a student to withhold from a parent such information; prohibiting a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a specified manner, etc.”
Baxley has even defended his actions and said, “Some discussions are for (having) with your parents. And I think when you start having sexual-type discussions with children, you’re entering a very dangerous zone. Your awareness should pop up right away, this isn’t teaching.” He also added that the new policy won’t attack private conversations between teachers and individual students.

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