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Disney Vows to Make More Gay Characters

A Disney executive vowed more inclusivity in its productions — as the entertainment giant works to make underrepresented groups, such as racial minorities and the LGBTQ community, account for at least 50 percent of its regular characters by the end of the year.

Karey Burke, president of Disney’s General Entertainment Content, said the company must do more to make its content more inclusive in a company-wide Zoom call Monday that was later posted to Twitter.

“I’m here as a mother of two queer children, actually,” Burke said on the call. “One transgender child and one pansexual child, and also as a leader.”

Burke said she supports featuring “many, many” characters who are LGBTQIA, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual (or allies).

The call was part of Disney’s “Reimagine Tomorrow” campaign, according to the video posted on Twitter Tuesday. Its website promises that 50 percent of regular and recurring characters across the Disney universe will come from “underrepresented groups.” The Disney honcho said she had been dismayed to learn from a colleague that the company only had a “handful” of queer lead characters in its content.

“And I went, ‘What? That can’t be true,’” Burke said. “And I realized it actually is true. We have many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories and yet we don’t have enough leads and narratives in which gay characters just get to be characters and not have to be about gay stories.”

During the same call Monday, another Disney employee noted how the company has also eliminated the use of gendered pronouns throughout its theme parks last summer as part of its inclusivity efforts.

“Last summer we removed all gendered greetings in relationship to our live spiels,” Disney diversity and inclusion manager Vivian Ware said on the call. “So, we no longer say ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls … It’s hello everyone or hello friends.”

Disney is now in the process of changing recorded messages in parks to match the inclusivity push, Ware said.

“We no longer say ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” Ware continued. “We say dreamers of all ages.”

The new push aimed at inclusivity comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Monday that bans Florida teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics like sexual orientation or gender identity with students unless they’re in the fourth grade or higher.

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