ORLANDO, Fla. — The Walt Disney Company is now publicly opposing Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, also referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, after initially refusing to take a public stance on the legislation.

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​“I know that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill," Disney CEO Bob Chapek said during Disney's annual shareholders' meeting Wednesday. "We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind-the-scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle."

The controversial bill, which would limit discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in Florida classrooms, passed both the state House and Senate and is now headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.

During the meeting, Chapek said that he called Gov. Ron DeSantis and plans to meet with him to discuss the company’s “concerns” over the bill.

“I called Gov. DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if legislation becomes law it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary and transgender kids and families,” Chapek said. “The governor heard our concerns and agreed to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address them.”

In response to Chapek's comments, DeSantis' press secretary shared the following statement: "Disney contacted our office today to speak with the governor. This is the first time we have heard from Disney regarding HB 1557. The governor did take the call from Mr. Chapek. The governor's position has not changed." 

Chapek also said the company will oppose similar legislation across the country and pledged $5 million toward organizations working to protect LGBTQ+ rights.

The reversal comes after Disney received backlash from some legislators, employees and fans for not making a public statement against the legislation. On Monday, Chapek sent a company-wide memo to staff to express Disney’s support for the LGBTQ+ community and also explain why the company had decided against taking a public stance on the issue.

“I do not want anyone to mistake a lack of statement for a lack of support,” Chapek said in the memo. “We all share the same goal of a more tolerant, respectful world. Where we may differ is in the tactics to get there.”

In recent years, Disney has made diversity and inclusion part of its company-wide initiatives. Chapek said that the company remains committed to inclusivity.