Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been an outspoken crusader against the rights of LGBT people. He has made his campaign to eliminate them the centerpiece of his unannounced run for the 2024 Republican nomination. He is pinning his hopes on the belief that the Republican party hates gays as much as he does.

When he passed his “Parental Rights in Education” bill, it was widely described as the “Don’t Say Gay” act because it prohibited any teaching about LGBT people in grades K-3. Since then, he has expanded the forbidden zone all the way through twelfth grade. Books and instruction about anything LGBT is forbidden in schools; he has also insisted on scrubbing the schools and colleges and universities of teaching about race or racism, other than as a positive story that reflects well on the nation’s history. His government is demanding that public colleges produce all data and costs of any programs dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion. These efforts by the DeSantis administration are part of his war on anything WOKE, meaning any show of concern for the well-being or suffering or needs of others.

The Walt Disney Corporation soon fell afoul of DeSantis; it denounced “Don’t Say Gay,” under pressure from its gay employees. DeSantis struck back by threatening to take away the tax advantages of Disney’s “special district.” Disney is the single largest employer in Florida.

The legislature stripped Disney of its self-governing status and put its operations under a 5-member board appointed by DeSantis. This gave the governor strutting rights, and strut he did, claiming that he had take on a big corporation and tamed it. After he signed the legislation, he boasted, “Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end. This is what accountability looks like.”

Here is Disney’s answer: It announced that it will host a major conference promoting the rights of LGBT in the workplace and will be joined by some of the nation’s biggest corporations.

What will Ron do?

The Walt Disney Company will host a major conference promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the workplace in Central Florida this September, gathering executives and professionals from the world’s largest companies in a defiant display of the limits of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign against diversity training.

Disney’s decision to host the conference this fall comes amid a yearlong dispute between the company and the Republican governor, who signed a law that ended decades of autonomy at the Disney resort. It was seen as punishment over the company’s opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, known widely as the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits any discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms before fourth grade. Disney has had a longstanding relationship with Out & Equal, the organization behind the event, and is listed on its website as one of its most generous sponsors.

The Florida resort has committed to hosting the conference this year and next, which will coincide with the presidential election campaign in 2024. DeSantis is widely expected to challenge former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

Michael Chamberlain, chief marketing officer for Out & Equal, confirmed to McClatchy that the conference would be held at The Walt Disney World Resort, Sept. 11-14. Last year’s summit was held in Las Vegas.

Dozens of iconic American companies — including Apple, McDonald’s, Uber, Walmart, Hilton, Amazon, Boeing, Cracker Barrel and John Deere — are sponsoring the Out & Equal Workplace summit, which over 5,000 people are expected to attend.

Several agencies, including the State Department and the CIA, are listed as government partners and will have booths at the conference. The conference comes after DeSantis declared victory over Disney in February when he signed a law that gave him the power to appoint a five-member board overseeing government services at the Disney district near Orlando.

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