Disney on Monday released a new LGBTQ-themed clothing line for young children amid Florida’s attacks on the company for its opposition to a recent parental rights in education law.
The new products include a variety of children’s attire and accessories — such as T-shirts, baby wear, bracelets, sweaters, socks, and girls’ backpacks — in the rainbow colors of the “Pride” flag, a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Many items mix the Pride flag’s color scheme with Mickey Mouse and other fictional Disney characters. They also include Pride-themed Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar designs — among the other entertainment brands owned by the company. The collection is available for purchase at retail Disney Stores, the ‘shopDisney’ e-commerce retailer, and all of Disney’s theme parks.
The announcement is part of an annual release of Pride-focused children’s wear, which the company has produced every year since 2018. This year, however, the clothing line was renamed the “Disney Pride Collection” from the “Rainbow Disney Collection.”
Additionally, in a statement, the company said that “100 percent of profits” from the collection’s sales until June 30, 2022 will be donated to “LGBTQIA+ youth and families,” through various charities in the country of sale. In previous years, only a small percentage of the collection’s profits had been donated by the company.
The release comes as Disney is embroiled in a fierce controversy over its opposition to House Bill 1557, known as the “Parental Rights in Education Bill.” The law, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in March of this year, prohibits classroom discussions on gender identity, sexual orientation, and LGBTQ themes in elementary school until Grade 3, and allows parents to sue school districts for non-compliance. “Parents do not want this going on in their schools,” DeSantis said before signing the law, which is supported by 61 percent of Americans per a recent poll.
Critics of the law, who dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” act, claim that it would harm the mental health of young children who wish to identify as LGBTQ. Chasten Buttigieg, husband of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, said that it would “kill kids” by increasing their risk of suicide. It’s an argument that supporters of the law have called “ridiculous,” claiming that children within the age groups affected — five to ten years old — are not mature enough to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
After initially refusing to condemn HB 1557, Disney CEO Bob Chapek — facing internal pressure from employees — announced the company’s opposition to the law along with a series of donations to LGBTQ-focused charities, while suspending political donations in the state. The decision was significant given the company’s ownership of Walt Disney World — its 27,000-acre flagship entertainment complex near Orlando, which employs over 80,000 people. In response, DeSantis accused Disney of trying to “commandeer our democratic process.” He later lobbied for and signed a bill to dissolve the “Randy Creek Improvement District,” a special municipality created for Disney World to operate autonomously — exposing the company to new regulations and taxes.
Disney’s release appears intended to address criticism over its conduct during the Florida controversy. In an announcement on its website, the company released the list of U.S. organizations that will benefit from the Pride Collection’s profits. They include groups like GLSEN and the Zebra Coalition, which have been among the fiercest critics of the Florida law, claiming that it will “erase LGBTQ students, history, and culture.”