DeSantis-Controlled Disney World District Eliminates Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs, Staffers

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ORLANDO, Fla. — In a decisive move echoing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ broader agenda, the governing district of Walt Disney World has eradicated all diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

The district, now under the control of DeSantis appointees, followed in the footsteps of the Governor’s efforts to curtail such programs in higher education and other spheres.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District made a public announcement stating the complete abolition of its diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, along with any job responsibilities linked to it.

The district also axed initiatives that were established during its previous governance by Disney supporters, which prioritized contracts based on achieving racial or gender parity.

Glenton Gilzean, the district’s newly appointed administrator, is an African American and a former head of the Central Florida Urban League.

He passionately referred to such initiatives as “illegal and simply un-American.”

Gilzean, also a fellow or member of conservative institutions like the James Madison Institute and the American Enterprise Institute Leadership Network, was appointed by DeSantis to the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Gilzean stated, “Our district will no longer participate in any attempt to divide us by race or advance the notion that we are not created equal.

As the former head of the Central Florida Urban League, a civil rights organization, I can say definitively that our community thrives only when we work together despite our differences.”

Disney World was contacted for a response to the recent developments, but no comment has been received at the time of reporting.

The move aligns with DeSantis’ actions last spring when he signed a measure into law that prohibited public colleges from using federal or state funding for diversity programs.

Additionally, the Governor championed the “Stop WOKE” law in Florida, which restricts businesses, colleges, and K-12 schools from providing training on certain racial concepts, such as the notion that individuals of a particular race are inherently racist, privileged, or oppressed.

However, a federal judge blocked the enforcement of this law in colleges, universities, and businesses, denouncing it as “positively dystopian.”

The Walt Disney World district, previously known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, played a crucial role in Disney’s decision to build a theme park resort near Orlando in the 1960s.

The district’s existence allowed the company to provide essential services and infrastructure on its vast property. For more than five decades, the district was under the control of Disney supporters.

Richard Foglesong, a Rollins College professor emeritus and author of the book “Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando,” expressed surprise that such an important matter was handled internally, without a public vote from the five members appointed by DeSantis to the district’s board, who had pledged transparency.

“This is an issue of public importance,” Foglesong stated.

The transfer of control to DeSantis’ appointees occurred earlier this year after a yearlong feud between Disney and the Governor.

The dispute began when Disney publicly opposed a state law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades, leading to DeSantis taking over the district through legislation and appointing a new board of supervisors to oversee municipal services for the theme parks and hotels.

Disney retaliated by filing a federal court lawsuit against DeSantis and his appointees, alleging violations of the company’s free speech rights.

Before the new board took charge, Disney had reached agreements with previous oversight board members who were Disney supporters, stripping the new supervisors of their authority over design and development.

In response, the DeSantis-appointed members of the governing district filed a second lawsuit in state court, seeking to invalidate these agreements.

Hopefully, sanity will continue to inform Florida’s legislature.

Read the original story here:
NBC News

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