GLAAD to Grade Film Studios on Political Donations
LOS ANGELES — GLAAD, the nation’s leading LGBTQ advocacy organization, plans to begin grading film studios on political donations and public advocacy beginning in the 2022 election cycle in response to what the group sees as corporate inaction around anti-LGBTQ legislation in Florida and other states.
In a tweet on Thursday, GLAAD’s President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, “Corporations need to be held accountable for their silence on anti-LGBTQ bills in states where they do business.”
The organization will include its new grading system in a revamped version of its Studio Responsibility Index.
The study typically monitors LGBTQ representation in releases by eight major film studio distributors: Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, STX Films, United Artists Releasing, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros.
The annual report assigns grades to each studio based on quantity, quality and diversity of LGBTQ representation from its film releases the previous calendar year.
Beginning this summer, the analysis will also document:
- Donations to anti-LGBTQ elected officials, candidates for office and anti-LGBTQ political action committees from a film studio and parent company.
- Public advocacy efforts from a film studio or parent company around pro-LGBTQ or anti-LGBTQ legislation.
- LGBTQ-inclusive ads or other public communications, especially outside of Pride Month.
As laudable examples of the latter, the organization noted that Marvel’s 2021 film “Eternals” was pulled from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait after Disney reportedly refused to cut a same-sex kiss.
Similarly, in 2019, Paramount spoke out against censorship of LGBTQ content in “Rocketman” in Russia.
The change in the annual Studio Responsibility Index came after Disney PRIDE employee resource groups and other LGBTQ advocates, including GLAAD, called for The Walt Disney Company to take action against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would bar discussion of LGBTQ people from Florida classrooms.
On Wednesday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek addressed the issue at a Walt Disney Company shareholders meeting.
“While we’ve been strong supporters of the community for decades, I know that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill,” Chapek said. “We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. And we were hopeful that our longstanding relationships with those lawmakers would enable us to achieve a better outcome. But, despite weeks of effort, we were ultimately unsuccessful.
“I called [Florida] Gov. DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, nonbinary and transgender kids and families,” he continued. “The governor heard our concerns and agreed to meet with me and LGBTQ+ members of our senior team in Florida to discuss ways to address them.”
Disney also joined the Human Rights Campaign letter opposing anti-LGBTQ state legislation.
Chapek also announced Disney was joining over 170 businesses in signing a Human Rights Organization statement “opposing such legislative efforts around the country.”
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