Recently-returned Disney CEO Bob Iger says he's "sorry" to see the company getting dragged into an ideological battle with Florida lawmakers over a ban on the discussion of sex and gender in early elementary classrooms.
The Florida law, which progressive critics described as the "Don't say gay" bill, was passed in response to complaints from parents that children as young as five-years-old are being taught about transgenderism, homosexuality, and other sexual and gender topics - and prohibits teachers from discussing said topics with students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
While Disney didn't immediately join other major corporations in condemning the bill, which was passed in March, however a group of activist employees lashed out at the company for not taking a public position - after with both Iger and his successor, Bob Chapek, spoke out.
"To me, it wasn’t politics. It was what is right and what is wrong, and that just seemed wrong. It seemed potentially harmful to kids," said Iger in a March 31 CNN interview, adding that he thought it was the responsibility of a CEO to "weigh in on issues, even if voicing an opinion on those issues potentially puts some of your business in danger."
Now, Iger has expressed regret for the company's involvement, as documented by journalist Christopher Rufo.
"When you tell stories, there’s a delicate balance," Iger told an audience at a town hall meeting, where he reiterated that the company still pushes pro-LGBT "inclusion" messaging.
Iger expressed regret that Disney engaged in the high-profile fight against Gov. DeSantis, which resulted in the state legislature stripping the company of its special administrative status. "I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle." pic.twitter.com/889toYW5ye— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 29, 2022
As the Epoch Times notes;
Another question concerned Florida government’s move to strip Disney of its self-governance status, a privilege the company has enjoyed since the time of Walt Disney. Losing such privilege means that Disney may no longer control its own zoning, infrastructure, and policing within its special tax district in Orlando.
“I have to get up to speed on that completely. Obviously, I followed the news. That development occurred after I left the company. I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle,” Iger replied.
“I have no idea what the ramifications are in terms of the business itself. What I can say is the state of Florida has been important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida.”
Iger served as Disney’s CEO for 15 years, from 2005 to 2020, before he stepped down and was succeeded by Bob Chapek, who oversaw the company during the COVID-19 pandemic that triggered worldwide shutdowns of theme parks, resorts, movie theaters, and live sports events. Chapek’s 11-month tenure is also marked by a deteriorated relationship with Florida government, although the state allowed Walt Disney World to reopen as early as July 2020, while California’s Disneyland stayed closed because of lockdown policies.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Disney said in a Nov. 20 message announcing the leadership change. “The board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the company through this pivotal period.”
Iger will remain in the CEO post for the next two years.