Special session to include attack on Disney over its opposition to so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law

By: - April 19, 2022 11:05 am

Cinderella Castle, the icon of Magic Kingdom, is a tourist mecca and part of the Walt Disney World resort in central Florida. Credit: Wikipedia.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has expanded the call of the special session on congressional redistricting opening on Tuesday to special districts, including the one that gives The Walt Disney Co. governing authority over the parks and other developments it operates in Central Florida.

“Yes, they will be considering the congressional map but they also will be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968. And that includes the Reedy Creek improvement district,” the governor said during a news conference in The Villages in Central Florida.

He thanked House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson, who flanked him on stage, “for not only working for the reapportionment but for stepping up and making sure that we make the sunset determination on those special districts happen, which I think is very important,” DeSantis said.

The move would make good on threats by DeSantis and legislative Republicans to punish Disney for opposing Florida’s so-called “Don’ Say Gay” law, which prohibits classroom instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3 or in a manner that is not “age-appropriate.” The law itself is titled “Parental Rights in Education.”

DeSantis signed the measure on March 28 amid complaints it discriminates against LGBT people.

The Legislature authorized Reedy Creek in 1967, as Disney prepared to open Walt Disney World. According to the authority’s website, Its 25,000 acres in Orange and Osceola counties encompass four theme parks, a sports complex, 175 miles of roadway, 67 miles of waterways, the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, plus water, natural gas, wastewater, sanitation, and electric utilities.

Backlash

Disney attempted to sit out the controversy of the law while the Legislature debated it during the recently concluded regular session but, pressured by employees, ultimately came out against it and stopped campaign financial contributions in Florida.

“Do what you believe in, but understand, if you are out protesting this bill, you are by definition putting yourself in favor of injecting sexual instruction to five, six and seven-year-old kids. I think most people think that’s wrong. I think parents especially think that’s wrong,” DeSantis said on March 22.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.

MORE FROM AUTHOR