GLAAD To Grade Film Studios On Political Donations & LGBT Advocacy In Wake Of Disney/Florida Fallout

The progressive backlash against Disney for failing to immediately take opposition to the state of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill is growing and now the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) wants to hold Hollywood Studios accountable for their inaction.

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO, GLAAD, on the Forum Stage during the opening day of Web Summit 2017 at Altice Arena in Lisbon. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Web Summit via Sportsfile

GLAAD announced in a press release last Friday that they are going to be making changes to their annual Studio Responsibility Index which grades the top eight major Hollywood studios based on the quantity, quality, and diversity of the LGBTQ representation in their films. 

GLAAD will now be grading studios on their LGBT advocacy based on political donations to left-wing candidates and censorship of LGBT scenes in international markets.

The press release states what new measures will be used in their new scoring system:

  • Donations to anti-LGBTQ elected officials, candidates for office, and anti-LGBTQ Political Action Committees from a film studio and parent company. 
  • Public advocacy efforts from a film studio or parent company around pro-LGBTQ or anti-LGBTQ legislation. 
  • LGBTQ-inclusive ads or other public communications, especially outside of Pride month.
  • Actions taken to support a studio’s LGBTQ-inclusive titles internationally. Recent examples include: in 2021, Marvel’s film ‘Eternals’ was pulled from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait after Disney reportedly refused to cut a same-sex kiss and in 2019, Paramount spoke out against censorship of LGBTQ content in ‘Rocketman’ in Russia.

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis made a statement on Twitter stating that corporations need to be held accountable for their silence on anti-LGBTQ bills in states where they do business.

She wrote, “Corporations need to be held accountable for their silence on anti-LGBTQ bills in states where they do business. That’s why we’re updating out Studio Responsibility Index to hold Hollywood accountable.”

In the press release, Ellis also stated, “No company that chooses silence over allyship should receive high scores from LGBTQ organizations while nearly 200 anti-LGBTQ bills advance in states around the country, often targeting transgender youth.”

“Corporations need to be held accountable for funding politicians that harm LGBTQ people, including their own employees, and for inaction on legislation that they can help defeat,” she added.

She then revealed the whole new initiative was based on Disney’s originally reported inaction opposing the Parental Rights in Education bill, “Today GLAAD moves this forward in the entertainment industry and GLAAD will be leading efforts to create similar accountability across industries. LGBTQ inclusion is not just what happens on screen.”

“The Walt Disney Company and other media companies need to take immediate action in Florida and other states. Entertainment and media companies cannot profit from our stories and stay silent on laws that discriminate against us,” Ellis declared.

The move by GLAAD came amid Pixar employees accusing Disney of censoring LGBT content in children’s movies after Disney failed to immediately back the progressive opposition to Florida’s education bill which bans the teaching of sexuality and transgenderism to children between kindergarten through third grade.

Not only did Pixar employees accuse the company of censoring LGBT content, but they also called on Disney “to immediately withdraw all financial support from the legislators behind the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, to fully denounce this legislation publicly, and to make amends for their financial involvement.”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek would quickly capitulate and acquiesce to these demands.

In a company-wide email, Chapek previously detailed that the company would not be picking sides regarding the bill explaining, “As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds. Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.”

He would later add, ““I firmly believe that our ability to tell such stories-and have them received with open eyes, ears, and hearts -would be diminished if our company were to become a political football in any debate.”

However, less than a week later, Chapek declared he wanted to be an outspoken champion for the LGBTQ+ movement.

In another company-wide email, Chapek stated, “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”

Later he revealed, “Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review.”

Walt Disney Studios

He would conclude the email writing, “I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.”

GLAAD has spent the last few years pushing major studios for more LGBT content in television shows and movies. Last year, 12% of all TV characters shown on broadcast television, cable, and streaming were LGBT, the highest percentage for that community since GLAAD began taking count. 

Despite the increase, GLAAD was still displeased with the number of transgender and nonbinary characters on television as well as the lack of LGBTQ characters with disabilities or living with HIV/AIDS.


Ellis has called for the major studios to include LGBTQ characters in 50 percent of their films by 2024.

This Article was originally posted by Bounding Into Comics. You can read the full piece here.


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