**Disney World Abolishes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs in Florida’s Governing District**
**Elimination of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs**
In a move aligned with Governor Ron DeSantis’ agenda, Walt Disney World’s governing district in Florida has abolished diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District announced that its diversity, equity, and inclusion committee would be eliminated, along with any associated job duties. Additionally, initiatives that aimed for racial or gender parity, which were previously implemented under Disney supporters’ control, were also axed.
**New Administrator and Opposition to Such Initiatives**
Glenton Gilzean, the district’s new administrator and a former head of the Central Florida Urban League, voiced opposition to these initiatives, claiming they were “illegal and simply un-American.” Gilzean, who is African American, has affiliations with conservative institutions and is a DeSantis appointee to the Florida Commission on Ethics. He emphasized the importance of working together and rejected any attempts to further racial division.
**Response from Disney World**
No comment has been issued by Disney World regarding the elimination of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.
**Governor DeSantis’ Actions Against Diversity Programs**
Governor Ron DeSantis has consistently worked to curtail diversity programs in higher education and beyond in Florida. One notable action was the signing of a law that prohibits public colleges from utilizing federal or state funding for diversity programs. DeSantis also championed the “Stop WOKE” law, which prohibits businesses, colleges, and K-12 schools from providing training on certain racial concepts. However, a federal judge blocked the law’s enforcement in colleges, universities, and businesses, referring to it as “positively dystopian.”
**Historical Background of the District**
The district, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, played a crucial role in the establishment of Walt Disney World’s theme park in Orlando during the 1960s. Its independent governance allowed Disney to provide essential services, such as zoning, fire protection, and utilities. For over five decades, the district was under the control of Disney supporters.
**Surprising Internally Decided Change**
Richard Foglesong, a professor emeritus at Rollins College and an expert on Disney World’s governance, expressed surprise that the decision to abolish diversity programs was made internally. Rather than through a public vote, the five members appointed by Governor DeSantis to the district’s board made the decision. These members had promised transparency, making the internal nature of the decision unexpected.
**District Takeover and Legal Disputes**
Governor DeSantis appointed new supervisors to oversee municipal services for Disney’s theme parks and hotels after a yearlong feud between the company and the governor. This feud began when Disney publicly opposed a state law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity. In response, DeSantis took over the district through legislation and appointed a new board of supervisors. Disney filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the governor violated their free speech rights. The DeSantis-appointed board members have also filed a state court lawsuit seeking to invalidate agreements made by previous oversight board members.