There is a new twist to the battle over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill. A member of the Disney family is transgender and openly speaking about that now that their parents have pledged a financial donation to the Human Rights Campaign to battle the Florida law.
I’m using the pronouns the person uses, which is their or they, as the reporting on this story has not clarified which gender the person identifies as as a transgendered person. Charlee Disney, the adult child of Roy P. Disney, the grand-nephew of Disneyland founder Walt Disney, and his wife Sheri. Last week Roy and Sheri jumped into the controversy over the Florida law set to go into effect on July 1, H.R.1557. Roy P. is fundraising for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group and LGBTQ political lobbying organization in the United States. At that time, Roy announced that Charlee is transgender. The family has pledged to match up to $500,000 in donations to the Human Rights Campaign after the organization refused a $5 million donation from Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
Mr. Disney, whose grandfather Roy O. Disney founded the company with his brother Walt, said in a fundraising pitch for the Human Rights Campaign that he was “heartbroken” over the Florida bill barring schools from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation with students in grades K-3.
“My wife, Sheri, and I have been members of HRC for over 20 years,” said Mr. Disney in the email. “Equality matters deeply to us, especially because our child, Charlee, is transgender and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
He offered to match gifts of up to $500,000 or more as part of a campaign to help raise $1 million for the HRC, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, which reported on its tax forms contributions of $44.7 million in 2020.
“We were heartbroken when Ron DeSantis signed the ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ law in Florida,” Mr. Disney said. “The fight isn’t over, and we are determined to do everything we can to stop this from happening in other places.”
Opponents to the Parental Rights in Education Bill call it the Don’t Say Gay Bill which is part of their gaslighting campaign against protecting very young children from adult discussions on sexual orientation, gender identity, and the LGBTQ agenda in Florida classrooms. There is no actual language in the bill that bans teachers from using the word ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’ but that is what opponents focus on. The law reflects a parent’s right to be included in what is and isn’t taught in their child’s school, with a focus on very young children ages 5-7.
Last month Disney CEO Bob Chapek tried to make a donation of $5M to the Human Rights Campaign because of his bungled response to the new law. That donation was refused by HRC. He initially had the correct response – he refused to jump into the arguments for and against the bill. Then, under pressure from some activist employees and outside groups, he relented and began an apology campaign. Walt Disney Company now says its goal is to get the law repealed.
Charlee Disney wants to get more active in LGBTQ issues after admitting to being not active in past years. For years Charlee identified as gay, not transgender. That changed, apparently, four years ago.
Charlee Disney, a 30-year-old science teacher, told the LA Times they came out to close family and friends four years ago, but chose to be more public with their identity in light of the hostile LGBTQ+ laws emerging across the US.
Charlee, who uses they/them pronouns, said: “I feel like I don’t do very much to help. I don’t call senators or take action. I felt like I could be doing more.”
The Disney heir added they grew up with “very few openly gay role models” and struggled to find similar representation elsewhere.
“I certainly didn’t have any trans or non-binary role models. I didn’t see myself reflected in anyone, and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me,” they added.
This is where I note the irony that Charlee is a science teacher. I know. Charlee is a high school biology and environmental science teacher.
Charlee has the love and support of their family, as they should. “I have a trans kid, and I love my kid no matter what,” Sheri Disney told the LA Times. No one will fault Charlee’s parents and their loyalty to their child. However, we can fault them for insisting on spreading disinformation on the Florida bill and insisting that topics like sexual identity and gender issues are incorporated into lesson plans for children as young as kindergarteners. Parents are entitled to insist on age appropriate lessons for their children.
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