During the NCAA women's basketball tournament on Friday, ESPN sports announcers interrupted the broadcast on two different occasions to protest Florida's Parental Rights in Education bill and other bills like it across the country.
Background on Florida's Parental Rights in Education bill
The Parental Rights in Education bill prohibits Florida school employees from engage in classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity grades kindergarten through third grade. Florida HB 1557 has been inaccurately dubbed as the "Don't Say Gay" bill by Democrats, legacy media, and LGBTQ activists.
Some Disney employees were outraged by the bill protecting young children against sexual discussions that are not age-appropriate.
Disney employees have reportedly been organizing 15-minute daily walkouts and "sickouts," according to the Guardian. Disney workers will allegedly stage a full-day walkout on March 22.
The small faction of displeased workers put pressure on Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek to take action.
During a conversation with shareholders earlier this month, Chapek said Disney executives were "opposed to the bill from the outset" but chose to work "behind the scenes" with Florida lawmakers to address their concerns and "disappointment."
Florida's governor defends the bill
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded with a statement, "Governor DeSantis has always been open to hearing from Floridians and having conversations about legislation — as long as those discussions are grounded in facts, not false media narratives."
"Anyone who has questions or concerns about the Parental Rights in Education bill is encouraged to read the bill, rather than the distorted coverage in the mainstream media, which regurgitates false partisan talking points," the statement declared.
"Disney is a family-friendly company that creates wholesome entertainment for kids," DeSantis said. "The same Florida parents who take their families to Disney also support parental rights in education, because they do not want their young children exposed to inappropriate content about sex and gender theory at school."
During a campaign stop in Boca Raton earlier this month, DeSantis proclaimed, "In the state of Florida, we are not going to allow them to inject transgenderism into kindergarten."
ESPN announcers protest bill with a moment of silence
Disney is the parent company of ESPN. In solidarity with the Disney employees protesting, three ESPN announcers interrupted the broadcast of the NCAA women's basketball tournament to hold a moment of silence to protest the Parental Rights in Education bill.
During the broadcast of the tournament matchup between South Carolina and Howard University, ESPN announcers Courtney Lyle and Carolyn Peck protested the legislation with a two-minute moment of silence to start the second half.
"There are things bigger than basketball that need to be addressed at this time," Lyle said after halftime. "Our friends, our family, our coworkers, the players, and coaches in this community are hurting right now. At 3 o'clock, about eight minutes ago, our LGBTQIA+ teammates at Disney asked for our solidarity and support, including our company's support in opposition to the Parental Rights in Education bill in the state of Florida and similar legislature across the United States.
“A threat to any human rights is a threat to all human rights," Peck said, before telling the basketball audience they would be taking a "pause" during the broadcast to "show our love and support for our friends, our families, and our colleagues."
During the ESPN halftime show of the same tournament game, sports anchor Elle Duncan also participated in a moment of silence in the middle of the broadcast.
"Because of legislation happening in Florida and across other states as well that are targeting our LGBTQI+ communities, many of our colleagues here at ESPN have planned and organized a walkout that will be happening at 3 p.m. Eastern today," Duncan said during the halftime show.
"And to be honest with you, we thought we were gonna come here today and really celebrate a sport that has meant so much and done so much, including for so many in the LGBTQI+ communities, but we understand the gravity of this legislation and also how it is affecting so many families across this country and because of that, our allyship is going to take a front seat and with that, we're going to pause in solidarity," Duncan said before having a moment of silence.