The ongoing saga of the Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE:DIS) commitment to LGBTQ rights took a personal turn when Disney heir Charlee Corra Disney publicly self-identified as a transgender man.
What Happened: In a Los Angeles Times interview, Disney — who uses the pronouns they/their — made a rare public advocacy statement.
“I had very few openly gay role models,” said Disney, a high school biology and environmental science teacher. “And I certainly didn’t have any trans or nonbinary role models. I didn’t see myself reflected in anyone, and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me.”
Disney noted that LGBTQ youth are under advanced stress levels created by emotional anxiety and the threat of bullying, adding that legislation singling out transgender children and their families makes a bad situation worse.
“They can’t learn about their community and their history at school, or play sports or use the bathroom they want to use?” Disney asked.
What Else Happened: Disney’s father, Roy P. Disney — the grandson of company co-founder Roy Disney and great-nephew of Walt Disney — announced his family would match up to $500,000 in donations made to the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit focused on LGBTQ issues.
“Equality matters deeply to us,” Roy P. Disney wrote in an appeal, “especially because our child, Charlee, is transgender and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
The Disney family’s contribution, which the nonprofit welcomed, could also be seen as something of a putdown of Bob Chapek, the CEO of Walt Disney Co. whose corporate donation of $5 million to the same organization was rejected in protest of the company’s initial response to the passage of Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
Separately, Roy P. Disney’s sister, Abigail Disney, went on CNN's “Reliable Sources” on Sunday to condemn Republican lawmakers and right-wing media for their reaction to the company’s advocacy of LGBTQ rights.
"This attack against Disney was so timed and rolled out so strategically that it was really hard for me to imagine that it didn't come from a series of decisions that got made in the background," she said.
Disney also took a swipe at Chapek’s initial reluctance to speak out against the controversial Florida legislation.
"You can't claim neutrality if you're supporting the people who write these laws," Disney said. "But on top of it, there is no neutrality anymore."
Photo: The symbol of the Human Rights Campaign (left) and the transgender flag (right) by Ted Eytan / Wikimedia Commons