The annual Out and Equal Workplace Summit, which boasts itself as the “largest LGBTQ+ conference in the world,” will be hosted this year at Walt Disney World Resort, according to several Florida outlets.
The conference is held once per year by the Out & Equal nonprofit, an organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace. The organization boasts the summit as “the largest LGBTQ+ conference in the world, with more than 5,000 attendees every year. It brings together executives, ERG leaders and members, and HR and DEI professionals and experts – all working for LGBTQ+ equality.”
The event will take place at Walt Disney World Resort this year from September 12 to 14, with a pre-event day on September 11. Disney has also committed to hosting the event next year in 2024. Companies such as Apple, McDonald’s, Uber, Walmart, Hilton, Amazon, Boeing, Cracker Barrel and John Deere will be represented at the conference according to the Miami Herald, as well as agencies like the CIA and the State Department.
The conference comes as Disney continues to see fallout from its decision to oppose controversial legislation championed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last year which critics slammed for preventing discussions of LGBTQ+ concepts in schools across the state. Disney took a hardline stance, which provoked Gov. DeSantis into repealing Disney’s longstanding Reedy Creek Improvement District, a tax district which allowed Disney to manage their own taxes, infrastructure, building codes, and much more for the massive 47 square-mile resort.
DeSantis “declared victory” over Disney in February after creating a five-person appointed board to oversee the resort, including one person who said homosexuality was a result of contaminated tap water. He stated at the time “The corporate kingdom has come to an end. This is what accountability looks like.”
Out & Equal on its website says it is “the premier global nonprofit organization working exclusively on LGBTQ+ workplace equality. Through our worldwide programs, strategic corporate partnerships, and sought-after events, we help LGBTQ+ individuals realize their fullest, most authentic potential, while supporting organizations in creating cultures of belonging for all.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, DeSantis has broadly campaigned against all diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives, attempting to erase any such measures from Florida’s education system all the way from kindergarten to colleges. He also has gone as far as blaming the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank on “wokeness.”
Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican who sponsored the bill to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District said he had never heard of the summit and was not troubled by it, per the Times. “I’m not willing to interpret it as some grand conspiracy to stick it in the eye of the state of Florida,” he said Monday. “Disney is part of the fabric of the Florida economy. … If they weren’t holding any conferences at Disney World, that would be news because that would be a big problem.” He said that even the Legislature used to hold annual events at the resort “before all this woke stuff took over”