The governing board of the special district that encompasses Walt Disney World cut all so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in the district, it was announced Wednesday morning. The members of the board were all appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican.
The announcement comes shortly after an internal investigation by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District found it had “routinely awarded contracts based on racially and gender-driven goals to businesses on the basis of their owners’ race and gender.”
The district will eliminate any jobs or duties directly related to diversity, equity, and inclusion—or DEI—programs. Staff will also no longer be allowed to “pursue DEI initiatives” on paid company time. Women- and minority-owned businesses will no longer be given preferential treatment in the procurement process.
This is part of the Republican presidential candidate’s ongoing battle with the Walt Disney Co. over its woke policies. Back in February, DeSantis ended Disney World’s longstanding status as a self-governed special tax district. Disney’s previous status exempted it from state regulatory reviews and approvals, which helped protect its ability to pursue its “not-at-all-secret gay agenda”—as one executive put it in 2022—among other woke policies.
“This legislation ends Disney’s self-governing status, makes Disney live under the same laws as everybody else, and ensures that Disney pays its debts and fair share of taxes,” DeSantis said at the time.
In a press release Wednesday, the Central Flordia Tourism Oversight District said that cutting all DEI initiatives and programs would “save millions of dollars each year.”
District Administrator Glenton Gilzean voiced his support for the board’s decision. Gilzean is an African American man who previously served as the head of the Central Florida Urban League.
“Our district will no longer participate in any attempt to divide us by race or advance the notion that we are not created equal,” said Gilzean. “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.”
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