Raven Symoné, star of Disney’s “Raven’s Home”, thinks Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill is “ridiculous”—and to that I say, “I’m with you, twin.”
The legislation restricts classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity and suggests that educators have the right to out students—forcing them to disclose their sexual orientation before they are ready. Disney, which employs 75,000 workers in Florida, initially declined to speak out against the legislation. After a weak company-wide apology, CEO Bob Chapek later backtracked saying, Disney leaders 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.”
That response wasn’t good enough for many Disney employees, including the out and proud Symoné, who led the cast and crew of “Raven’s Home” in a walk-out on Tuesday. Symoné shared support and solidarity for the LGBTQIA+ “Raven’s Home” staff members, writing in an Instagram caption: “In [today’s] world it is imperative that we take stands, show support, and move forward not backwards. Every family every person and every child deserves to be recognized no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation.”
Symone added, “Education that reflects the truth and the world we live in is something we must fight for.”
The Disney actor —who married Miranda Pearman-Maday in 2020—was joined by several other celebrities in speaking out against the company’s response to the discriminatory legislation, including Kerry Washington, Mark Ruffalo, Gabrielle Union, and Oscar Isaac. Washington wrote: “I don’t condone the actions or inactions of Disney at the moment. I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQIA+ employees, and stand with them in this [walkout] today. Please know that you matter. Your rights matter. Your voices matter. I encourage you all to help their voices ring louder today.”
Symoné’s walk out comes on the heels of the mass walk-out by Disney staffers. Employees signed an open letter and petition to demand action from Disney. They’re asking the company to stop “construction and investment in the state of Florida until hateful legislation is repealed,” and to stop any efforts to move employees to Florida office locations or fire staffers who refuse to go. They also demand that Disney “immediately and indefinitely cease all campaign donations to these politicians involved in the creation or passage of the ;don’t say gay’ bill.” (Disney donated some $4.8 million to Florida candidates in the 2020 election cycle.)
Disney employees are not allowing admin to placate them with “ educational seminars or token background characters” and will be refusing to return until the company proves its dedication to equity and inclusion. The protest is intended to hurt Disney’s pockets and viewership, as many are calling on fans to end their Disney+ subscriptions and halt trips to the theme parks.
My question: Will Chris Pratt will be joining the walk-outs? Until he does, I’ll be singing Oscar Isaac’s response to the bill: “Gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gayyyyyy!”