Several ESPN broadcasters on Friday participated in an on-air moment of silence to protest Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which would prohibit classroom instruction relating to sexual orientation or gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade.
ESPN’s Elle Duncan on Friday spoke out against the Florida bill and similar proposals in other states, claiming they are “targeting our LGBTQIA+ communities.”
She added that many of her ESPN colleagues planned to walk out on Friday afternoon.
Elle Duncan joining her colleagues and speaking up. pic.twitter.com/Ger5i2yLLj
— Ben Koo (@bkoo) March 18, 2022
“We understand the gravity of this legislation and also how it is affecting so many families across this country, and because of that our allyship is going to take a front seat,” she said.
“And with that, we’re going to pause in solidarity,” she added, before observing a moment of silence.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Carolyn Peck and Courtney Lyle took a two-minute-long moment of silence during the NCAA Women’s Tournament on Friday to protest the bill.
“There are things bigger than basketball that need to be addressed at this time,” Lyle said. “Our friends, our family, our coworkers, the players and coaches in our community are hurting right now.”
“Our LGBTQIA+ teammates at Disney asked for our solidarity and support,” she added.
Today during the Women's NCAA Tournament, ESPN's Carolyn Peck and Courtney Lyle remained silent for two minutes in opposition of Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill.
"There are things bigger than basketball … Our LGBTQIA+ teammates at Disney asked for our solidarity and support." pic.twitter.com/d0xISZvNUh
— The Recount Alt (@therecountalt) March 18, 2022
Staffers at Disney, ESPN’s parent company, planned to hold walkouts last week and this week to protest the measure, the Guardian reported.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he and other Disney executives called Florida governor Ron DeSantis earlier this month to “express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary, and transgender kids and families,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Chapek first came out against the bill during the company’s annual shareholder meeting when he announced Disney planned to donate $5 million to LGBTQ groups.
The bill passed the state legislature earlier this month. DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law.
Chapek said DeSantis agreed to a follow-up conversation and was “very open” to hearing him out.
However, while progressive opponents of the legislation have labeled the measure the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Republican state senator Dennis Baxley, who spearheaded the bill, said it is intended to restore authority to parents who are better equipped to address the topics of gender identity and sexual orientation in the early stages of childhood development.
DeSantis pushed back against a reporter’s use of the “Don’t Say Gay” title during a press conference last month.
“Does it say that in the bill? Does it say that in the bill? I’m asking you to tell me what’s in the bill because you are pushing false narratives,” he said.
When the reporter responded that the bill prohibits classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation, DeSantis pushed back: “For who? For grades pre-K through 3. So, five-year-olds, six-year-olds, seven-year-olds. The idea that you wouldn’t be honest about that and tell people what it actually says is why people don’t trust people like you.”
“Some discussions are for [having] with your parents,” he told Fox News in February. “And I think when you start having sexual-type discussions with children, you’re entering a very dangerous zone. Your awareness should pop up right away, this isn’t teaching.”
One day after Chapek’s comments, DeSantis issued a sharp rebuke of Disney, calling out the company’s “woke” stance on the Parental Rights in Education bill and its ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
A video obtained by Fox News showed DeSantis telling supporters in Boca Raton that Florida’s policies must be based on the “best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musings of woke corporations.”
DeSantis also has said there is “zero” chance he will change his position on prohibiting the instruction of “transgenderism in kindergarten classrooms.”
“When you have companies that have made a fortune off being family friendly and catering to families and young kids, they should understand that parents of young kids do not want this injected into their kids’ kindergarten classroom,” he said.
“You have companies, like at Disney, that are going to say and criticize parents’ rights, they’re going to criticize the fact that we don’t want transgenderism in kindergarten, in first-grade classrooms,” he added. “If that’s the hill they’re going to die on, then how do they possibly explain lining their pockets with their relationship from the Communist Party of China? Because that’s what they do, and they make a fortune, and they don’t say a word about the really brutal practices that you see over there at the hands of the CCP.”