Following in Representative Joe Harding‘s footsteps, two more House Republicans announced they are returning campaign contributions from Walt Disney in response to its stance on the recently signed Parental Rights in Education bill (HB 1557).
On Wednesday, Representative Randy Maggard became the second lawmaker to direct his campaign to return contributions made by Disney to his 2022 reelection bid. Maggard, who represents the 38th House District, announced that he was returning $5,000 worth of contributions just one day after Harding, who sponsored the legislation, purged his campaign coffers of the company’s fingerprints.
In a press release, Maggard said he chose to put parents and families in his district first over a corporation that pushes a “disinformation narrative.”
“The Parental Rights in Education Act says that at the youngest ages, K-3rd grade, only age appropriate material can be taught to students in the classroom,” Maggard said in a statement. “This legislation protects Florida’s youngest schoolchildren and protects the parent-child relationship. I am disappointed to see Disney go along with the disinformation narrative of political activists when they know it to be false. I stand with Florida families and with the parents and families in my district.”
A day after Maggard’s hardline stance, Representative Elizabeth Fetterhoff followed suit, becoming the third Republican to return donations made by Disney on Thursday.
Fetterhoff, who represents 26th House District, noted in a press release that she was returning $2,000 in contributions made by Disney Gift Card Services and Disney Destinations LLC.
“Parents, who are their children’s first teachers, should always have a voice and decision making rights in the education of their children,” Fetterhoff said in a statement. “I stand with Governor DeSantis, Speaker Chris Sprowls, and most importantly Florida’s parents in support of their parental rights and the ability for them to make decisions regarding the education of their children.”
The pushback against Disney by GOP lawmakers is part of a broader morality war playing out on a national stage between Florida and Mickey Mouse.
The move to return contributions comes after Disney — a large contributor to many Republican elected officials in Florida — came out in opposition to the bill, releasing a statement on Monday that vowed to help repeal the measure after Governor Ron DeSantis kickstarted the week by officially signing the bill which limits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in K-3 classrooms.
“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” the statement reads. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”
Branded the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, the bill has sparked national attention and outrage, with many mainstream media outlets and Democrats aiming to depict it as a proposal that will make it illegal for teachers and students to say the word “gay” in public schools. The bill, however, doesn’t say anything about the word “gay,” and Florida Republicans have openly lambasted the political left for using the legislation as a scare tactic.