As the battle between The Walt Disney Co. and Florida rages on, the co-founders of Moms for Liberty are calling for a boycott, saying “Disney has severely underestimated Florida parents.”
On March 28, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education measure into law. House Bill 1557, inaccurately branded by liberal opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prohibits Florida educators from teaching anything about sexual orientation or gender identity to children in kindergarten through third grade. The law goes further, enabling parents to sue if they believe schools or instructors have violated it.
A week prior, after facing pressure from LGBT communities and staff for his silence, Disney CEO Bob Chapek issued a statement apologizing for not being a “stronger ally” to them, calling the legislation “yet another challenge to basic human rights.” Chapek then announced that Disney would immediately halt all political donations in Florida.
In a March 28 statement, Disney’s corporate office said its new goal was “for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts” and vowed to support organizations working to make such a thing happen.
“Parents are not going to put up with this nonsense,” Justice told The Epoch Times. “We are watching woke corporations chip away at our parental rights. So we’re not just going to stand out on the street with our ‘Boycott Disney’ signs. We’re going to do what we need to do as parents across the country and make sure we spend our money with companies that align with our values, and sexualizing children is not a value we hold. We do not believe that’s an appropriate thing for any adult to be doing.”
Tina Descovich, the group’s other co-founder, said Moms for Liberty’s Florida chapters worked hard for months in support of the Parental Rights in Education legislation.
“We are in a war, and our moms are going to do what they’re going to do when it comes to organizations and businesses that support the grooming of children,” Descovich told The Epoch Times. “We brought 200 moms to Tallahassee to rally in support of this bill so parents can reclaim their rights in public education in the state of Florida. The bill has now been signed, and we think it’s unacceptable that an organization like Disney wants to get involved with destroying the work we’ve been doing.”
But Descovich insists their war isn’t against Disney.
“Our war is for the security and safety of our children,” she said. “So our strategy is the same as it was when we launched our organization in January of last year, and that’s to empower moms and dads and families to stand up for parental rights at all levels of government.”
According to Justice, not only is Moms for Liberty organizing to boycott Disney to fight back against leftist ideology, but they plan to secure every school board position they can in the Sunshine State to keep the ideology out of Florida’s schools. Considering their pool of more than 80,000 members in 181 chapters in 34 states across the country, these parents could prove to be a formidable financial and political foe for “the happiest place on earth.”
“We just added Hawaii, and we’re not leaving any of the states behind,” she said. “We’re coming for California. We hear from parents in California all the time who are tired of the woke politics. We are the United States of America, and American parents are paying attention. We invited Disney into our homes, and these corporations are turning their backs on us and our children. We believe the innocence of children is sacred, and adults must work to protect that.”
In response to Disney’s threats, Florida state Rep. Joe Harding, the Republican lawmaker who sponsored the measure, announced that he’s returning the $3,126 he received in political donations associated with Disney. Other Florida lawmakers followed suit.
As DeSantis wrapped up a March 30 press conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, he hinted that state lawmakers might repeal the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which provides Disney with what DeSantis called many “special privileges.”
“We have some amazing elected leaders in Florida, and they are standing up for parents and for kids,” Justice said. “I am incredibly thankful. America needs strong elected leaders. We don’t need followers who beg at the feet of woke corporations. If you’re an elected official and you’re accepting money from Disney, you are selling out parents.”
To honor DeSantis for his dedication to standing up for families and children, Descovich said Moms for Liberty created a hashtag referring to DeSantis as #TheParentsGovernor long before the Disney battle began.
“I think Disney has severely underestimated Florida parents because they live in a California bubble, not in reality,” Justice said. “But it’s not surprising to me that a company that plays make-believe for a living would be out of touch with the average American parent.”
It’s a sentiment shared wholeheartedly by Florida state Rep. Spencer Roach, a Republican.
“Here in Florida, the two issues that have really galvanized voters and will continue to resonate all the way to 2024 are the woke corporations and woke school boards,” he told The Epoch Times. “I think when we’re looking at both of these issues, the fundamental issue is the same.”
According to Roach, the question that keeps arising is one of instilling values.
“Who is responsible with inculcating values systems in children? Should it be government, acting through these woke school boards and corporations, or should it be parents?” he said. “What we’re coming down with every time is ‘parents.’ Parents want to ensure that they are the ones having these conversations with their children and teaching their children the values they hold dear. Not the government and not these corporations.
“We can’t overstate that that is such a fundamental, critical issue that school boards are missing. Terry McAuliffe missed it in Virginia and now Bob Chapek of Disney. That’s the theme they keep missing. These government actors, school boards, and corporate CEOs have awakened a sleeping giant of an interest group here in the United States called ‘parents.’ What’s more about Florida is Bob Chapek doesn’t understand a majority of Republicans and Democrats in Florida support the ‘Parents Rights in Education’ law.”
Descovich included Roach in a list of Florida leaders who have stood in defense of parental rights in Florida.
“We have some great leaders in the state of Florida who really recognize the role of parents and families and really respect that role and are willing to stand up and fight for it,” she said, citing Roach, Harding—who sponsored House Bill 1557—and Florida state Rep. Erin Grall, who sponsored the Parents’ Bill of Rights. “We have some real champions in Florida for parental rights, and we are thankful that they are in the great state of Florida.”
On June 9, 2021, The Epoch Times reported that Florida was the No. 1 relocation destination for Americans in 2020. New York and California, both heavily Democratic, had the most people choosing to leave. In 2021, Florida took second place as the most popular relocation state, behind Texas.
In September, satirical news site The Babylon Bee named California Gov. Gavin Newsom the “U-Haul Salesperson of the Year.” On March 12, Newsom told Disney through social media that “the door is open to bring those jobs back to California—the state that actually represents the values of your workers.” DeSantis’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, noted with a laughing emoji how Newsom “had kept Disneyland closed for 13 months straight.”
On April 1, The Epoch Times reported that Florida had reached a historic milestone. Republicans overtook Democrats in registered voters by a margin of 100,000.
“We’re just getting started,” Justice said.
In the meantime, asked what advice she would offer to parents who want to let Disney know how they feel, she suggested they “find another place to vacation this summer.”
Joshua Phillip contributed to this report.