Disney Has Another Throwdown for DeSantis

Company to host major LGBTQ conference in September
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2023 10:20 AM CDT
Defiant Disney to Host LGBTQ Summit Under DeSantis' Eye
People visit the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on April 18.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

Ron DeSantis' very public battle with Walt Disney World continues, now with another move by the latter to support LGBTQ rights. Disney World will be hosting a major summit from Sept. 11-14 to help boost lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in the workplace, with execs and team members from "dozens of iconic American companies," including McDonald's, Amazon, Apple, Walmart, and Uber, taking part, per the Miami Herald, via AOL. On the website for Out & Equal, the event's organizer, the conference is billed as "the largest LGBTQ+ conference in the world, with more than 5,000 attendees every year."

The summit's goal, per the site: "to network and share strategies that create inclusive workplaces, where everyone belongs and where LGBTQ+ employees can be out and thrive." The Herald notes that Disney World has enjoyed a longtime relationship with Out & Equal, and is listed by Out & Equal as one of its largest sponsors. The announcement comes amid tension between Disney and the Florida governor, which kicked off about a year ago when Disney pushed back against DeSantis signing what's become known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill. That legislation bars talk of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms through third grade—and even among older kids, if those discussions aren't deemed "age appropriate."

DeSantis has spent much of the past year since railing against diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in his state, and last month, in what's seen as retaliation for Disney's pro-LGBTQ support, DeSantis took control of appointments to the oversight board for the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the special district that oversees Disney's theme parks in Florida. However, Disney hosting this latest LGBTQ conference "is another demonstration of the limits on the Republican governor's ability to influence the content and scope of events at Disney," notes the Herald. Disney World has also given the green light to host the conference there in 2024—when DeSantis might be making a run for the White House. (More Disney World stories.)

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