In an email to Disney employees obtained by Variety, Chapek issued an apology to the LGBTQ community for the company’s silence on the controversial bill, which passed the Florida Senate on Tuesday.
“Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill,” Chapek wrote. “Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”
Chapek went on to announce that Disney will be “pausing all political donations in the state of Florida.”
“Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states,” he wrote. “We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review.”
Earlier this week, Chapek had told employees that Disney would not respond to the bill publicly, saying that “corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds.”
“The best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support,” he added.
Passed by both the Florida Senate and House, the Parental Rights in Education bill would limit what classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Under this legislation, these lessons “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.”