Gender war in Florida — parental rights versus woke capitalism

A Neokohn szerkesztője


The political debate over Florida’s parental rights law took an unexpected turn when Disney entered the picture. But what does the king of cartoons have to do with gender ideology and the lawmaking of an American state in general? By Tímea Hajdú.

Original aritcle in Hungarian/Az eredeti cikk magyarul. 

At the end of March, Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, signed the Parental Rights in Education act into law. The legislation includes a ban on teachers from kindergarten to third grade talking about sexuality and gender in the classroom. The law was a reaction to the introduction of gender ideology into the curriculum in some states in America, which caused outrage among many conservative and liberal parents. Also, as Tik-Tok became more popular, more and more elementary school teachers began to post about how they were teaching the ideology to preschool and elementary school-age children. (These videos are being collected on Twitter by a user called „Libs of Tik-Tok”.) Then, last year, a scandal broke in Florida over a teacher taking children to a gay bar for a „class trip.”

The phenomenon is not new, and battles have been raging over sex education in America for years. In the name of equality and diversity, the Democratic Party advocates LGBT sensitivity training for children, with guidelines and recommended literature. They have reaffirmed this position in the last month and have launched a campaign against the law, involving many political and cultural figures.

The legislation has been derided by the U.S. media as the „Don’t Say Gay” law. Joe Biden has called the bill „hateful,” and the administration has released several official documents highlighting the importance they place on the mental health of LGBTQ minors.

Opponents of the law have branded it „homophobic” and often overlook the fact that it concerns children under the age of 10.

Among the opponents of the law was Disney, which has become increasingly active politically in recent years. Its interference in Florida’s affairs can and probably has had unintended consequences.

Woke capitalism

The case has drawn attention not only to the debate about children’s education but also to the reason why companies like Disney have a progressive, woke agenda. Nor does it seem profitable as a business model to agree to support ideologies that do not enjoy the support of the majority of customers. This isn’t the first time Disney has spoken out against a law. In 2019, after the state of Georgia announced a new, stricter abortion law, the company raised the possibility that they might not want to film there. Nor is Disney the only company that has caved to progressives; today, you would have to use a magnifying glass to find a major corporation that doesn’t hold sensitivity training for its employees, or that doesn’t promote the importance of diversity and try to put a rainbow product on the market.

The phenomenon is described in detail by Vivek Ramaswamy in his book Woke Inc., published in 2021. The author describes how

companies turned woke for business reasons.

Ramaswamy, who comes from the corporate world, said in a lecture at Hillsdale University that there was huge anger against U.S. banks and the financial sector following the 2008 crisis. The writer explained that the classic old left proclaimed that the „capitalists” were the bad guys and that money should be taken from the rich and redistributed among the poor. However, the new „woke” left promotes a different theory, that poverty is not the real problem, that economic injustice is not the problem to be solved, but that racial injustice, male domination and bigotry are the real problems.

According to the author, Wall Street immediately saw an opportunity to pretend they weren’t the bad guys, all they had to do was adopt progressive values.

All it took was to fly the rainbow flag, promote diversity, appoint women and LGBT leaders, and organize minority leadership programs and sensitization sessions. Reacting to the changing times, companies have tried and are trying to weather the storm by allying themselves with the new left and keeping the classic left at arm’s length. This may be the reason why Disney is openly trying to oppose the law, as a sign that they are not on the side of the “bigots.”

Ramaswamy points out that because money is at the heart of all their motivations, this is also the reason why companies do not make such demands of China, as they would be shut out of the market.

The „not so secret gay agenda”

When the discussion was only about the draft law, entertainment press started to publish articles about why Disney was not trying to stop it. Disney was put at the center because of the special status it enjoys in Florida. Progressive employees of the company organized a protest, and, under pressure, management finally announced their opposition to the bill.

To show how important it is to them to empower children, they announced that they would be putting a lesbian kiss in their new Pixar fairy tale film Lightyear, even though they had originally planned to cut it out.

This was an attempt to signal to LGBTQ organizations that they remain committed to progressive ideologies.

Management began holding internal meetings on LGBTQ issues to try to calm the outrage of their own employees. The Federalist reported that Chris Rufo, a conservative journalist, leaked footage that revealed that producers at Disney, the world’s most popular children’s content company, were actively working to get more „gay content”.

“Our leadership over there has been so welcoming to my, like, not-at-all-secret gay agenda,” said Latoya Raveneau, an executive producer at Disney Television Animation. “I was just, wherever I could, just basically adding queerness … No one would stop me and no one was trying to stop me.”

And Allen March, Disney’s production coordinator, told the meeting that his team is committed to „exploring queer (gay) stories” and has created a „tracker” to make sure they create enough „gender non-conforming characters,” „canonical trans characters” and „canonical bisexual characters.” Karey Burke, president of Disney General Entertainment, has been equally outspoken about her plan to increase „gay content.”

The footage has sparked a huge outcry and has cast the Florida law in a very different light. Sexual content could be banned from schools by law if, while a parent is asleep on the sofa, their child is exposed to the very same thing they wanted to exclude them from via a Disney production.

Republican politicians and Orthodox rabbis have also protested against Disney’s „LGBTQ” program. Many have called for a boycott of the company. In the past, Disney had even imposed strong and strict rules on male-female relationships, as various parent groups lobbied against any sexual references.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro reacted to the footage on his podcast:

„It used to be that the least political space was the kids’ space. Because after all, who would want to attack the innocence of children? Who would want to insinuate themselves between parents and kids by teaching controversial social values of the left? (…) Now, people want to do that, and not only do they want to do that, they’re doing it.”

Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Chapek read an official statement in a video, also leaked, apologizing and promising to be a „better ally” to the LGBTQ community.

Americans have allowed progressive, left-wing people to take control of their institutions over the past decades without much resistance. In some areas, such as abortion, they have tried to tighten up at the state level, but, in general, they have allowed the culture to be taken completely out of their hands. However, last autumn, in a classically Democratic state, Virginia, a centrist Republican candidate was able to win after growing opposition in the state to teaching children critical race theory in school.

As in Virginia, the children in Florida were the red line.

Even after the Florida law was signed, Democrats continued to protest against the law, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for example, saying he agreed that the „law could lead to the deaths of children.” The Democrats continue to campaign against it despite a Florida poll showing that a majority of both Democrats and Republican voters agree with the text of the law. Nor does the leaked apology from Disney’s CEO suggest that the company feels it could alienate masses of potential customers. Meanwhile, the success of the law and the outraged parental reaction to the recordings show that many Americans who have allowed progressive ideologies to infiltrate every aspect of society will choose to fight, not to be indifferent, when it comes to their children.

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