Kerry Washington Supports LGBTQ+ Disney Employee Walkout
Kerry Washington "Wholeheartedly" Supports Disney's LGBTQ+ Employees
In an open letter published on Tuesday, Kerry Washington showed her support for Disney's LGBTQ+ employees. On March 22, the workers staged a full-scale walkout to protest Disney's response to Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill. The bill, which passed on March 8, restricts discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary school classrooms. As an employee of ABC, a Disney affiliate, Washington spoke out against the company's initial refusal to condemn the bill and encouraged employees to stand their ground.
"Please know that you matter. Your rights matter. Your voices matter."
"For a long time, as an employee of ABC, I have been part of the Disney corporate 'family,'" she wrote. "It's a creative and professional community that I am often happy and proud to be a part of. But sometimes family members disagree. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES. I don't condone the actions or inactions of Disney in this moment. I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQIA+ employees, and stand with them in this [walkout] today. Please know that you matter. Your rights matter. Your voices matter. I encourage you all to help their voices ring louder today."
For employees, the walkout is an opportunity to demand protections for LGBTQ+ staff members from such legislation and to call on Disney to stop making political donations to contentious Florida politicians.
"The recent statements by The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) leadership regarding the Florida legislature's recent 'Don't Say Gay' bill have utterly failed to match the magnitude of the threat to LGBTQIA+ safety represented by this legislation," employees explained in a petition to fight against the company's "hatred and bigotry." "Primarily, those statements have indicated that leadership still does not truly understand the impact this legislation is having not only on Cast Members in the state of Florida, but on all members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the company and beyond. While we certainly appreciate Bob Chapek's apology note, there is still more work to be done."
In a tweet shared on Feb. 9, before the bill was passed, Washington wrote, "Horrified by what is happening in Florida. Children deserve to be who they want to be. To be their true selves. If there was ever a time to register to vote, it is now." Fellow celebrities, including Gabrielle Union and "Saturday Night Live" star Kate McKinnon, have openly slammed the bill and Disney's disappointing response to the harmful legislation.
To address the concerns of Disney employees, Chief Executive Officer of Disney Bob Chapek plans to go on a "listening tour" with workers to better understand their needs. As of the writing of this post, the "Don't Say Gay" bill is one step away from becoming a law and still requires the signature of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has expressed his support for the measure.