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Florida Gov. DeSantis threatens to pull ‘special treatment’ for the state’s biggest employer Disney

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that Disney’s woke ideology is a significant threat to the state and he threatened to strip the company’s privileges, including its right to build anything it wants in its theme park. 

The governor’s comments on Fox & Friends Friday come after some Republican legislators in Florida are considering punishing Walt Disney World for taking a public stand against the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by repealing a 55-year law that allows the company to govern itself.

‘They have gotten incredible treatment from the Florida legislature and are treated on a pedestal, this one corporation is treated differently than anybody else,’ DeSantis said. ‘That is not something I’ve ever supported. In the legislature you see a move to reevaluate the special privileges.’ 

Florida House Rep. Spencer Roach tweeted on Wednesday that lawmakers held two meetings this week to discuss revoking the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which he said ‘allows Disney to act as its own government.’

Spencer, a Republican, added: ‘If Disney wants to embrace woke ideology, it seems fitting that they should be regulated by Orange County.’

On Friday, DeSantis said it was time to take a stand against Disney’s woke ideology and that he doesn’t believe in special treatment for any corporation. 

‘There is policy dispute and that is fine, but when you try to impose a woke ideology on the state, that is a significant threat,’ he said. ‘This wokeness will destroy this country we if we let it run unabated. We take a stand against that.’

‘At the end of the day, I don’t believe in special treatment for any corporation,’ he added. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for an end to Disney’s special privileges as he threatened to pull special treatment for the state’s biggest employer, saying ‘when you pose a woke ideology on the state, that is a significant threat’

DeSantis signed into law the Parental Rights in Education bill, which forbids classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten-third grade

DeSantis signed into law the Parental Rights in Education bill, which forbids classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten-third grade

The district is governed by its 19 landowners, the biggest of them being Disney World. It is responsible for overseeing land use and providing essential public services, including fire protection, emergency medical services, water services, electricity, sanitation.  

The district also operates and maintains all public roads and bridges. 

DeSantis pointed out on Friday that under law that Disney can even build their own nuclear power plant. 

He added that competitors to Disney have complained for years that they don’t get the same treatment as Disney. 

‘Treating every business the same is what you should do,’ he said. ‘Going to more even-handed approach is probably better policy anyway. They have been able to get their way for many decades.’

Disney World’s special status is now at risk after the entertainment giant condemned the Parental Rights in Education bill – commonly known as which DeSantis signed into law on Monday, sparking an outrage amid LGBTQ activists and progressives.

The law forbids classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Its many critics argue that the law’s true intent is to marginalize LGBTQ people and their families.  

Disney, which is Florida’s largest single employer and a major political donor, has found itself at the center of the escalating feud over the law, after progressive employees and customers blasted the company for donating money to all the sponsors of the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and failing to denounce it.

In response to the backlash, which included protests and walkouts, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced earlier this month that he would be meeting with DeSantis to oppose the bill.

‘I understand our original approach, no matter how well intended, didn’t quite get the job done,’ the CEO said at the time. 

After DeSantis signed the bill into law, Disney released a statement, saying: ‘our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts.’

Disney's tepid response to the controversial bill led to protests and worker walkouts

Disney’s tepid response to the controversial bill led to protests and worker walkouts  

Walt Disney’s ‘Magic Kingdom’: How 1967 law allowed the company to govern its vast Florida domain   

The Reedy Creek Improvement District, a semi-private, special-purpose government, is controlled by Disney. 

It was created in 1967 when then-Florida Gov. Claude Kirk, a Republican, signed into law the Reedy Creek Improvement Act authorizing it to regulate land use, enforce building codes, treat wastewater, control drainage, maintain utilities and provide fire protection at Disney World.

The district is governed a Board of Supervisors that is selected by its 19 landowners, the biggest and most influential of them being Disney World.

The district has the authority to tax the land, and use the revenue to provide essential public services and operate and maintain all public roads and bridges. 

Such private governments aren’t uncommon in Florida, which has more than 600 community development districts that manage and pay for infrastructure in new communities.

If the 1967 is repealed by GOP lawmakers, Disney World’s property will fall under the control of Orange and Osceola counties.  

DeSantis responded earlier this week to Disney’s new stance on the law by accusing the company of being dishonest and hypocritical.

‘You’ve got to wonder why is the hill to die on to have transgenderism injected into kindergarten classrooms, or woke gender ideology injected into second grade classrooms. Why is that the hill to die on?’ he asked in a Tuesday night interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

‘Meanwhile, if we’ve done a bill that prohibited talking about the abuse of Uyghurs in China, Disney would’ve supported that legislation. They won’t say a word about that,’ the Republican governor continued.

DeSantis pointed out that Disney Cruises sail to the Dominican Republic, which has laws that ban gay marriage and legalize discrimination against gay people.

‘So they’re fine doing that and lining their pockets, they’re fine lining their pockets from the CCP, and all the atrocities going on there,’ he continued, referring to the Chinese Communist Party, which the company thanked in the credits of its live-action Mulan reboot. 

‘But it’s those kindergarteners in Florida that they really want to have transgenderism as part of their core curriculum in school.’

Disney’s about-faced on the law prompted condemnation from some conservative employees, and calls for a boycott from the public.

Jose Castillo, who works as a manager at a Disney resort and is also running for Congress in Florida, said his employer’s decision to oppose the law could be ‘bad for business’ as not everyone is a ‘raging liberal’ who works there.

In an interview with Fox News, Castillo argued that many staff were in favor of the bill and the company’s pushback against its own workers was killing democracy.

One Disney employee, writing under the pseudonym Ethan L. Clay, claimed the company’s leaders have ‘surrendered’ to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ideology and instilled a culture that forces employees who support the law to remain quiet out of fear of scrutiny or termination.

‘I encourage everyone to ignore the bloviating of Disney executive leadership, from CEO Bob Chapek all the way down to park VPs,’ Clay penned in his blog post published on Tuesday. ‘These people are not thought-leaders or cultural revolutionaries. They are cowards held hostage by the prevailing narrative, and they will run in whichever direction that narrative dictates.’ 

What is the Parental Rights in Education bill?

HB 1557 was introduced by two Republican members of the Florida Legislature – Representative Joe Harding and Senator Dennis Baxley.

They say the bill’s aim is to ’empower parents’ in their children’s education, and make teachers recognize the distinction between ‘instruction’ and ‘discussion.’

‘What we’re prohibiting is instructing them in a specific direction,’ Baxley said about how teachers lead students in a classroom. 

‘Students can talk about whatever they want to bring up, but sometimes the right answer is, ”You really ought to talk to your parents about that.”’

The bill applies to children in kindergarten through third grade.

It states that ‘classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur.’

It also requires districts to ‘adopt procedures for notifying a student’s parent if there is a change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being,’ something LGBTQ advocates argue could lead to students being outed to their parents without the student’s knowledge or consent.

It was passed on March 8 in a 22-17 vote. The state House had approved the bill late last month. DeSantis signed it into law on March 28 and it will come into effect on July 1.