The Walt Disney Company will host a major conference promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the workplace in Central Florida this September, gathering executives and professionals from the world’s largest companies in a defiant display of the limits of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign against diversity training.
Disney’s decision to host the conference this fall comes amid a yearlong dispute between the company and the Republican governor, who signed a law that ended decades of autonomy at the Disney resort. It was seen as punishment over the company’s opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, known widely as the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits any discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms before fourth grade.
Disney has had a longstanding relationship with Out & Equal, the organization behind the event, and is listed on its website as one of its most generous sponsors. Dozens of iconic American companies — including Apple, McDonald’s, Uber, Walmart, Hilton, Amazon, Boeing, Cracker Barrel and John Deere — are sponsoring the Out & Equal Workplace summit, which over 5,000 people are expected to attend. Several agencies, including the State Department and the CIA, are listed as government partners and will have booths at the conference.