The governing board responsible for overseeing Walt Disney World and its affiliated properties, appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has announced its intention to dismantle the use of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs within the district. Glenton Gilzean, director of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, conveyed the decision in a statement, denouncing the DEI initiatives as unlawful and un-American. Gilzean emphasized that the district will no longer endorse programs that attempt to divide people by race or promote the notion of inequality among individuals.
DEI, which stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion, is a controversial ideology that has drawn criticism from a conservative perspective for promoting discrimination based on characteristics like skin color and sexual orientation. The ideology has been accused of undermining the principle of meritocracy and replacing it with preferential treatment based on identity.
The oversight board also revealed the results of an internal investigation into its predecessor, the Disney-appointed Reedy Creek Improvement District. The investigation found that the district had engaged in awarding contracts and implementing quotas based on racial and gender criteria. Consequently, the use of such policies and the DEI committee will be terminated by the oversight board.
The conflict between DeSantis and Disney began when the company criticized Florida Republicans for passing a parental rights bill. This legislation prohibited educators from discussing topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity with kindergarten through third-grade students. In response to Disney’s criticism, DeSantis took steps to reduce the company’s self-governing authority within the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Disney attempted to regain authority over its properties through legal means and even filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and state officials, alleging government retaliation. However, the DeSantis-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District filed a countersuit, and a state-level judge recently denied Disney’s motion to dismiss the board’s suit.
From a conservative standpoint, this conflict represents a broader debate over the role of DEI programs, government authority, and corporate influence in shaping policies and values in society. The conservative perspective often emphasizes individual merit, equal treatment under the law, and opposition to divisive ideologies that classify individuals based on immutable characteristics.