(KTVX) – Disney’s President of General Entertainment Content, Karey Burke, vowed that the company will carry out its promise to make 50% of all regular and recurring characters members of underrepresented groups by the end of 2022.
Burke, a mother of two LGBTQ+ children herself, one transgender and one pansexual, expressed her heartbreak in learning of Disney’s lack of LGBTQ+ leads.
She spoke of a Disney open forum held on the week of the 20th where “…one of our executives stood up and said ‘You know, we only have a handful of queer leads in our content,’ and I went, ‘What? That can’t be true!’ And I realized, oh, it actually is true.”
Burke went on to emphasize her belief that the company doesn’t produce enough narratives in which gay characters just get to be characters rather than being the focus of a gay story.
“That’s been very eye-opening for me,” she noted.
The businesswoman turned activist choked back tears when looking towards the future, saying, “I hope this is a moment where … we just don’t allow each other to go backward.”
This comes as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill has been signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Shortly after the bill was signed, the Walt Disney Company issued a statement saying it “should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” The Hill reports.
Under the bill, which takes effect on July 1, primary school teachers are prevented from discussing LGBTQ+ issues in classrooms as well as allowing parents/guardians to sue teachers and/or schools who discuss these topics.
The bill also contains language many worry will enable and/or force schools to “out” students who come out as LGBTQ+ to their families. According to the bill schools are prohibited from preventing personnel from notifying parents about “specified information or that encourage student to withhold from parent such information.”
The Walt Disney Company, a powerful player in Florida politics, suspended its political donations in the state as the bill moved through the legislature, and LGBTQ advocates who work for the company criticized CEO Bob Chapek for what they said was his slow response speaking out against the bill. Some walked off the job in protest.
The Associated Press and Nexstar Media Wire’s Russell Falcon contributed to this report.