The board of directors that oversees the sprawling Walt Disney World park properties in Florida sued the company just days after Disney filed a federal lawsuit against the board.
A five-person Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board, installed by Governor Ron DeSantis, voted unanimously May 1 to sue Disney in state court, after Disney’s April 26 federal lawsuit accused the company of governor’s administration to carry out a “relentless campaign to use the power of government as a weapon against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political point of view.”
The escalation of the legal battle follows the state takeover of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, now the Central Florida Tourism Supervisory District, made up of right-wing activists and DeSantis loyalists, a move that followed punitive measures. of Florida Republicans against the company after its public opposition to what opponents called the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Disney sued the board moments after it voted to invalidate agreements made under the previous board, which would keep most of Disney’s operations under the company’s control, despite the efforts of the DeSantis administration.
Disney’s lawsuit alleges that Mr. DeSantis’ effort “threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
The latest litigation follows a dispute that has simmered for more than a year after Disney leaders announced that the company would oppose the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law and suspend its political donations in the state, only after weeks of pressure from LGBT+ advocates and Disney employees urging the company to publicly lobby against the move.
That legislation, the “Parental Rights in Education Act,” prohibits instruction on “sexual orientation or gender identity” from kindergarten through third grade and any discussion “not appropriate to age or student development” in other grades. The Governor recently expanded the law to explicitly extend such restrictions to all grades.
Critics have warned that the broadly written law threatens to freeze classroom discourse involving LGBT+ people and issues, from civil rights history lessons to discussions about LGBT+ students, school staff and their families. Following the passage of the Florida law, US lawmakers and Congress introduced similar legislation, including at least 26 measures in 14 states in the current legislative sessions alone.
After public objections from Disney, Governor DeSantis and members of his administration ignited a dispute that turned into Republican threats to punish Disney’s operations in the state and ultimately resulted in his administration seizing control of they.
A municipal district that oversees Disney properties in Florida was first implemented in 1967 to allow Disney to effectively control its own land use, zoning rules, and utilities, without imposing a tax burden on Florida residents. . In effect, Disney taxed itself to pay the district’s bill for its municipal needs.
Earlier this year, Governor DeSantis signed a bill that amounts to state takeover of the district, led by an appointed board.
the independent has requested comment from Disney.