DeSantis-controlled Disney district abolishes diversity programs

August 2, 2023

Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree that companies should have diversity, equity and inclusion programs?

The Florida district taken over by the DeSantis Administration from Disney on Tuesday abolished its diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District was formerly known as Reedy Creek when it was controlled by the Walt Disney Company starting in 1967. In a statement, the new controllers said that its diversity, equity and inclusion committee would be eliminated, as would any job duties connected to it. Initiatives that awarded contracts based on racial or gender parity were also eliminated. 

The new board’s administrator, Glenton Gilzean, who is Black, called the programs in question “illegal and simply un-American.”

In April the Walt Disney Company filed suit against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), the five-member board that DeSantis appointed to oversee the Florida resort complex, and other state officials over what Disney called a “targeted campaign of government retaliation.”

The suit was filed moments after the five-member board voted to nullify two agreements that gave the entertainment behemoth vast control over expansion at the 25,000-acre complex, which has largely been funded over the years by taxes levied on Disney.

DeSantis had targeted Reedy Creek last year after Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek publicly criticized Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” bill, which restricts certain classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Since announcing he’s running for President in 2024, DeSantis has further announced an economic plan to target what he calls “woke” corporations nationwide.

When the Reedy Creek district was established in 1967, it effectively turned the property into its own county, giving Disney control over its own fire protection, policing, waste management, energy generation, road maintenance, bond issuance and development planning.

This past month, the new board suggested that it would cut the $8 million that the district spent annually under Disney on law enforcement provided exclusively to the company’s properties.

During that July public meeting the board announced additional forthcoming cuts to the district as well, including some $200 million in tax collections.

Disney reportedly paid and collected a total of $1.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2022.

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