Here's Why One SoCal Animator Walked Out Over Disney's Response To 'Don't Say Gay' Bill
At 11 a.m. Tuesday, several dozen employees at The Walt Disney Company's Burbank headquarters got up from their desks and walked out in protest. The walkout was the culmination of week-long actions to protest the company's response to Florida legislation that severely restricts classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in elementary school.
Dana Terrace, creator and executive producer of the Disney Channel's animated series The Owl House, said her employer's response to what critics have labeled the "Don't Say Gay" bill has been weak.
"I believe actions speak louder than words, and so far they haven't shown any action," Terrace said. "All they've said is, 'we're here for you, we're listening to you, oh, you guys are so brave.' And it's like, I don't need to be told I'm brave. … We need Disney to stop giving money to these people who want to see queer kids disappear."
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said earlier this month that the company is pausing all political donations in Florida, and reevaluating its criteria for political giving.
But Terrace said she wants to see Disney stop, not pause, donations to legislators who supported the bill, and to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has said he will sign it into law.
"Stopping their support for them is the first step. Next, they need to stop censoring queer content in their movies," Terrace said.
Pixar employees released a letter last week accusing Disney executives of censoring on-screen affection between same-sex couples in their films.
It's yet unclear whether or how many employees may have walked out at Disney's Anaheim theme parks and at the company's other properties. But Terrace said she knew of many Disney employees who were too scared to walk out.
"They're terrified of losing their jobs and terrified of not being able to get a job afterwards," she said. "A lot of those people aren't in leadership positions which is extra awful because no one, no matter what their position, should feel unsafe voicing their support or even expressing their identity to their employer."
After Terrace and other employees walked out of their Burbank offices, they met at a park to write letters of support to the Zebra Coalition, a Florida nonprofit group that supports LGBTQ+ youth.
Disneyland employees staged their walkout safely off campus today.— Disney Walkout (@DisneyWalkout) March 22, 2022
They joined in on writing letters of affirmation to the LGBTQIA+ children and families in FL effected by the bill.
Solidarity! ❤️#DisneyDoBetter #DisneySayTrans #DisneySayGay #DisneyWalkout #WhereIsChapek pic.twitter.com/2yYL1Sl8CM