"Cinderella's Castle - Walt Disney World" by @cdharrison is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Disney to Host LGBTQ Conference Amidst Anti-LGBTQ Legislation in Florida

Amid increasing anti-LGBTQ legislation being introduced and passed in Florida, Disney World has announced that it will be hosting a major LGBTQ conference.

The Out & Equal Workplace summit, the largest LGBTQ conference in the world, will be held at Walt Disney World in Orlando in September. The conference focuses on workplace equality, bringing together more than 5,000 executives, ERG leaders and members, and HR and DEI professionals and experts every year. Disney, Apple, Bank of America, and Uber are among Out & Equal’s top partners.

“Over more than 20 years, Summit has grown to become the preferred place to network and share strategies that create inclusive workplaces, where everyone belongs and where LGBTQ employees can be out and thrive,” Out & Equal’s website reads. “Through our worldwide programs, strategic corporate partnerships, and sought-after events, we help LGBTQ individuals realize their fullest, most authentic potential, while supporting organizations in creating cultures of belonging for all.”

Disney World has committed to hosting the conference this year and next, according to the Miami Herald. Next year’s summit will coincide with the presential election campaign, in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to challenge former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

The conference comes after DeSantis declared there was a “new sheriff in town” after signing a law giving him power to appoint a five-member board overseeing government services at Disney’s self-governing district. In response, Walt Disney World Resort president Jeff Vahle said, “We are focused on the future and are ready to work within this new framework.”

Disney employees walked out last year over Florida’s infamous Don’t Say Gay bill, and Disney CEO Bob Chapek issued a memo to employees informing them that the company would increase support for LGBTQ advocacy groups and pause all political donations in Florida.

“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” Chapek wrote. “… I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ community so that I can become a better ally… I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ community.”