Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is undeterred by Disney’s criticism of the state’s parental notification bill, the governor’s press secretary told The Daily Wire Wednesday evening.
Spokeswoman Christina Pushaw confirmed that Disney contacted the governor’s office to speak with DeSantis, saying that this is “the first time we have heard from Disney regarding HB 1557.”
“The governor did take the call from Mr. Chapek,” she said, referring to Disney CEO Bob Chapek. “The governor’s position has not changed. No in-person meeting has been scheduled yet.”
“Disney is known as a family-friendly company that creates wholesome entertainment for kids,” she continued. “The same Florida parents who take their families to Disney also support parental rights in education, because they do not want their young children exposed to inappropriate content about sex and gender theory at school. We expect Mr. Chapek will carefully consider their concerns.”
Chapek spoke out Wednesday in a company shareholder meeting about the bill, telling shareholders that he had called DeSantis on Wednesday morning to express Disney’s “disappointment and concern,” according to CNN.
Should the bill become law, Chapek said, it “could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary and transgender kids and families.”
“The governor heard our concerns and agreed to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address them,” the Disney CEO said.
Critics of the state’s legislation have most notably taken issue with HB 1557’s statement that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
Students in kindergarten are typically five years old, while third graders generally are eight or nine years old.
News outlets like CNN call HB 1557 the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” in copy, and critics of the legislation accuse Republicans of endangering LGBTQ youth by outing them to their parents or preventing them from learning about their sexuality.
Gov. DeSantis and his team have repeatedly pushed back on this framing.
As recently as Monday, the governor tore into a reporter for misrepresenting the bill during a press briefing.
“Critics call it the Don’t Say Gay bill,” said the reporter, to which DeSantis replied, “Does it say that in the bill? I’m asking you to tell me what is in the bill because you are pushing false narratives. It doesn’t matter what critics say.”
“It bans classroom instruction on sexual identity and gender orientation,” said the reporter.
“For who?” pressed the governor. “For grades Pre-K through 3. So 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, and the idea that you wouldn’t be honest about that and tell people what it actually says, it’s why people don’t trust people like you, because you peddle false narratives.”
Nowhere in the legislation is the word “gay” mentioned, though the word “parent” is mentioned 32 times and the word “parental” is mentioned eight times. The legislation heavily focuses on parental notification and parental awareness of what children are being taught or exposed to in school.
“Governor DeSantis has always been open to hearing from Floridians and having conversations about legislation — as long as those discussions are grounded in facts, not false media narratives,” Pushaw told The Daily Wire on Wednesday.
“Anyone who has questions or concerns about the Parental Rights in Education bill is encouraged to read the bill, rather than the distorted coverage in mainstream media, which regurgitates false partisan talking points,” she added.