A major conference on LGBTQ workplace equality is set to take place at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida this year as state Republicans continue on their quest to restrict LGBTQ rights.
The annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit will bring together executives and group leaders from dozens of prominent American companies — including Apple, Amazon, Walmart and McDonald’s — to discuss how to best implement diversity and inclusion initiatives at work.
The conference will be held at the Disney resort in Orlando from Sept. 11 to 14, said Out & Equal chief marketing officer Michael Chamberlain, according to the Miami Herald.
News of the conference comes about a month after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law taking away Disney’s control of its self-governing jurisdiction following the company’s criticism of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill — commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The legislation prohibits discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in primary school classrooms.
The ban could soon expand to include older students as well, through a new rule proposed by the State Board of Education
The proposal, which is scheduled for a vote next month, says teachers “shall not intentionally provide classroom instruction to students in grades 4 through 12 on sexual orientation or gender identity unless such instruction is expressly required by state academic standards.”
Teachers who violate the rule could be suspended or have their teaching license revoked.
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“The Board of Education’s proposed rule would see more books with LGBTQ characters ripped from school shelves, more discussion of diverse families muzzled, and further character assassination of hardworking teachers in Florida,” Brandon Wolf, press secretary for LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida, told the Daily News in an email.
What the DeSantis administration is saying is that it’s “never appropriate to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ people, or our contributions to society, in schools,” Wolf added.
DeSantis — who has made anti-LGBTQ legislation a centerpiece of his agenda and likely presidential run — is “an existential threat to every LGBTQ+ person in Florida,” said Cathryn Oakley, the state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre slammed the proposal to expand “Don’t Say Gay” as “completely, utterly wrong.”
“Make no mistake, this is part of a disturbing and dangerous trend that we’re seeing across the country of legislation that are anti-LGBTQI+, anti-trans in a way we have not seen in some time,” Jean-Pierre said Wednesday at a press conference.
“It was never, ever, ever, ever about kindergarten through third grade,” former state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida’s first LGBTQ Latino lawmaker, tweeted Wednesday evening. “It was always about demonizing us and censoring LGBTQ people out of existence in our schools.”
With News Wire Services
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