Disney heir slams Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill after publicly coming out as transgender

An heir to The Walt Disney Co. has come out publicly as transgender. In a recent interview, Charlee Disney described a bit of her own journey, condemning states that have passed bills aimed at restricting the rights of the LGBTQ community.

The 30-year-old professor of biology and environmental science made his first public statement last month at a gala for the Human Rights Campaign, where they announced a matching grant of $250,000 to the defense group. They told the Los Angeles Times last week that they privately came out as transgender four years ago.

It was one of the heir’s most significant public acts of support for the LGBTQ community. Charlee Disney told the Los Angeles Times, “I feel like I’m not doing much to help.”

“I don’t call senators and I don’t act,” they said. “I felt like I could do more.”

And take more action than they did. Along with their donation to HRC, Disney parents Roy P. Disney – the grandson of the company’s co-founder and great-nephew of Walt Disney – and his wife Sheri, announced they would be doubling the Charlee’s commitment to the band.

“Equality matters deeply to us,” Roy Disney wrote in an email to The Washington Times, “especially because our child, Charlee, is transgender and proud to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community.”

In Roy Disney’s email, he also said he, his wife and their two children were “heartbroken” when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the law, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” straight. The legislation, officially called the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, prohibits classroom discussions or teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as well as in older classes when done “in a way that is not age-appropriate”. or appropriate for development.”

The family’s statements came after The Walt Disney Company faced significant backlash over the Florida law. After the company initially remained silent on the legislation, its CEO, Bob Chapek, emailed employees that he had met LGBTQ members of the company, but that the company’s statements ” do very little to change results or minds”.

“Put simply, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change,” Chapek wrote, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Walt Disney Company later released a statement, saying the law “should never have been enacted”.

For Charlee Disney, Florida’s new law is just another hurdle the LGBTQ community, especially transgender people, must navigate. Their own journey has been difficult, they told the Los Angeles Times.

“I had very few openly gay role models,” they said. “And 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 something was wrong with me.”

Charlee Disney told the newspaper that LGBTQ youth face high rates of depression, anxiety, bullying and suicide. According to a 2021 national survey by advocacy group The Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ youth have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth. More than half of transgender and non-binary youth in middle school or high school have been bullied.

“So put something like this law on top of that? They can’t learn about their community and their history at school, or play sports, or use the bathroom they want to use?” said Charlee Disney.

Bills like Florida’s only make matters worse, they said.

The Trevor Project’s 2021 survey found that when LGBTQ youth are in gender and sexual orientation affirming spaces, rates of suicide attempts were lower. They also found that LGBTQ youth who heard about LGBTQ issues or people at school were 23% less likely to report a suicide attempt.

“The fight is not over,” Roy Disney told The Washington Times. “And we are determined to do everything we can to prevent that from happening elsewhere.”

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