Disney's public relations team may have made a bibbidi bobbidi boo-boo, denouncing sex education legislation in Florida despite the CEO's initial reluctance to enter the fray.

CEO Bob Chapek told his shareholders the company's initial strategy of staying on the sidelines regarding Florida's bill, which would prohibit discussions of “sexual orientation and gender identity” for students from kindergarten to the third grade, “didn’t get the job done” and that he plans to meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss his concerns.

"We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle," he told shareholders, CNBC reported. "We were hopeful that our longstanding relationships with those lawmakers would enable us to achieve a better outcome, but despite weeks of effort we were ultimately unsuccessful."


Chapek also announced the company would donate $5 million to organizations that advocate LGBTQ rights.

The CEO said on Wednesday he had a phone call with DeSantis to discuss the legislation. The governor offered to evaluate any specific concerns Disney's LGBTQ population had with the legislation and expressed interest in preventing the law from being weaponized. He said DeSantis would meet with him and LGBTQ+ members of Disney's senior team to discuss their concerns.

"DeSantis committed to me that he wanted to make sure that this law could not be weaponized in any way by individuals in the state or groups in the state to in any way unduly harm or target gay, lesbian, nonbinary, or transgender kids and family," Chapek said. "He was very open to this conversation and finding out what aspects are most concerning."

Disney refrained from taking a position for weeks, a stance the CEO defended in a recent memo to staff, arguing, "Corporate statements do very little to change outcomes" and that such statements are often divisive.

The governor's office confirmed the phone call took place and defended the legislation. A spokesperson for the governor noted that DeSantis's position in support of the bill "has not changed."

"Gov. 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," a statement from the governor's office said. "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."


Earlier this week, the Florida Legislature passed the Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by its detractors despite those words not appearing in the text. The legislation needs DeSantis's signature to become law. The bill imposes restrictions on school discussions about “sexual orientation and gender identity” from kindergarten through third grade. The bill also gives parents the right to sue school districts that violate provisions in the bill.

Several companies are increasingly facing pressure to weigh in on contentious political issues. In contrast with his predecessor, Bob Iger, Chapek has seemingly sought to abstain from bitter political melees, trying to safeguard the company's appeal to customers of all political stripes.