Disney Facing Huge Lawsuit For Response To Controversial Law

By Nathan Kamal | Updated

disney don't say gay

The Walt Disney Company is facing a lawsuit from one of its own investors due to its oppositional response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law. Per Bloomberg, the lawsuit filed by Disney investor Kenneth Simeone claims that the company opened itself to “financial repercussions” by publicly opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” law, the name commonly used to refer to the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, which made discussion or instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity illegal in “kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards” in Florida. 

Kenneth Simeone’s lawsuit is requesting a judge order Disney to provide internal documents that can be then used to sue the company and its directors, presumably on the basis that as an investor, the plaintiff has a vested interest in the company making safe business decisions. The lawsuit essentially takes the stance that Disney, by publicly opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” law, put the financial interest of its stakeholders at risk.

It is interesting to see how this might proceed, considering that while stakeholders like Kenneth Simeone understandably want Disney to do everything it can to make them money, public opposition to laws like “Don’t Say Gay” is likely covered under corporation free speech laws upheld by the United States Supreme Court. 

It is also interesting to note that while the heart of Kenneth Simeone’s case is Disney’s public opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” law, the company was actually initially criticized for the opposite stance. To put a very complex issue as simply as possible, Disney was criticized by progressive groups for having contributed to various legislative sponsors of the “Don’t Say Gay” law, received widespread public backlash and employee walkouts, took a period of not having a public stance on the act, then took a subsequent oppositional stance, and was in turn criticized by conservative groups. 

In short, pretty much every action that Disney has taken surrounding the “Don’t Say Gay” issue has angered someone. While Kenneth Simeone’s lawsuit (which was first filed in Delaware court in November) is one of the first concrete legal actions against the company, Disney has also become a favorite target of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and has been increasingly used as a public example of a “woke” company by conservative pundits.

Strange World Gabrielle Union
Strange World

Disney has also had some other issues of late than its stance on the “Don’t Say Gay” law, including the massive flop of its most recent animated feature film Strange World. The Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid film was first released over Thanksgiving and swiftly became one of the company’s biggest disasters ever, with the film being almost immediately shunted to the Disney+ streaming service. 

Although Disney owns massive franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Indiana Jones series, that does not mean it is invulnerable to lawsuits or the bad press they can bring from either side of the political spectrum. We shall just have to see what a judge decides.