Representative Joe Harding is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to the recently signed Parental Rights in Education bill.
Harding, who served as the bill’s primary sponsor, announced on Tuesday that he has returned all political contributions received from Disney and its affiliated companies. Harding stated in a press release that he chose to return $3,000 in donations because of Disney’s public criticism of the legislation and their “failure to defend parents.”
“I’m disappointed to see Disney speak out against this legislation, which is now Florida law,” said Harding. “As a company whose primary audiences are young children and families, Disney has let us down through their complicity with the false narratives pushed by liberal media, who have repeatedly mischaracterized the content of my legislation. Some radical elements of our society are embracing an idea that parents are unsuited to be parents and that schools have a primary role in determining when and how young children are exposed to sexual topics. I invite Disney to reconsider its position and join forces with those of us who support parents first.”
Governor Ron DeSantis kickstarted the week by officially signing the bill (HB 1557) which limits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in K-3 classrooms. 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 a single thing about the word “gay,” and Florida Republicans have openly lambasted the political left for using the legislation as a scare tactic.
Disney — a large contributor to many Republican elected officials in Florida — also came out in opposition to the bill, releasing a statement on Monday that vowed to help repeal the measure.
“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 “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.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.”
DeSantis hit back at the idea in a press conference on Tuesday, noting that Disney’s statement was “fundamentally dishonest” and “crossed a line.”
“This state is governed by the interest of the people of the state of Florida. It is not based on the demands of California corporate executives,” DeSantis asserted. “They do not run this state. They do not control this state.”
Harding agreed with the Governor’s sentiments, citing that Disney’s stance left him “no other choice” but to wipe ‘The Mouse’ from his campaign coffers and stand up for parents who support the newly-minted law.
“Disney has long been a pillar of the Florida economy and provides family-friendly entertainment for both Floridians and tourists of every nation,” added Harding. “But their rejection of common sense, parents-first principles gives me no other choice but to return their donations. No matter the cost, I will continue to fight for the children in our school systems and their families.”