Disney has released a new "Pride Collection" clothing line for children amid controversy surrounding the corporation's reaction to Florida's new parental rights in education bill and reported efforts to include LGBT advocacy in its children's programming.
The family entertainment company launched the new fashion line on Monday, featuring merchandise such as sweaters, T-shirts, baby clothes and other items, all bearing the rainbow pride flag that symbolizes the LGBT movement. The collection's launch comes two weeks before the start of so-called pride month, which LGBT activists recognize each June.
Many of the products also include LGBT-themed images of iconic Disney character Mickey Mouse and the company's Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar franchises. The company is selling the items through its "shopDisney" online store, Disney retail shops and theme parks.
"The Disney Pride Collection was created by LGBTQIA+ employees and allies at The Walt Disney Company and is a reflection of their incredible contributions and place at the heart of the company," the corporation wrote in a statement announcing the clothing line. "We stand in solidarity with our LGBTQIA+ community everywhere."
In an opinion piece published by The Daily Citizen, Zachary Mettler, staff writer and communications liaison for the Christian organization Focus on the Family, contended that Disney is "targeting" children with an LGBT agenda.
"The new clothing line is just a part of Disney's continued push to promote sexual confusion in children," Mettler told The Christian Post. "Children weren't designed to carry the weight of adult sexuality."
He further suggested that Disney is trying to plant the idea into children's heads that same-sex couples marrying is morally the same as a marriage between a man and a woman. He said the family entertainment company is attempting to teach children that gender is malleable, something he envisions will "confuse" and negatively impact them when they become young adults.
In its announcement of the clothing line, Disney pledged to donate the entirety of the collection's proceed's now through June 30 to various LGBT activist organizations, including: Ali Forney Center, GLSEN, LGBTQ Center OC, Los Angeles LGBT Center, PFLAG National, SF LGBT Center, The Trevor Project and the Zebra Coalition.
Mettler views this as a sign that the corporation has become more vocal about its stance on LGBT issues than in previous years.
According to Fox Business, the corporation has produced pride-themed clothing for children every year since 2018 but previously donated only a small percentage of the profits. This year, the company also renamed the fashion line from Rainbow Disney Collection to the Disney Pride Collection.
"I think parents especially need to be aware of the content that their children are consuming and, ideally, will proactively discuss these issues with them. Particularly topics on sexuality and gender identity, so that their children know how to navigate the content that these organizations promote," Mettler said.
On March 11, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek apologized to employees via a letter for not taking a firmer stance against Florida bill HB 1557. The law prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity instruction for students in kindergarten through third grade and requires schools to notify parents about their child's healthcare services on campus.
Disney initially remained neutral about the legislation that critics derided as a "Don't Say Gay" bill, changing its stance after criticism from LGBT employees and supporters. The company condemned the bill in a March 28 statement, declaring that it "should never have passed and should never have been signed into law."
A few weeks after the company first criticized the bill publicly, leaked video footage obtained by the Manhattan Institute's Christopher Rufo showed Disney employees discussing their efforts to promote an LGBT message in the company's children's programming.
During the meeting, Latoya Raveneau, an executive producer at Disney, praised the showrunners of the company's "Proud Family" reboot for adhering to her "not-at-all secret gay agenda." The spinoff of the children's animated series features new characters, including a same-sex couple.
Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said Disney has "gone too far" in a Facebook post last month.
"What has happened at Disney is moral failure," Graham insisted. "Walt Disney had a vision for wholesome family entertainment. He was committed to the family. The morals of the corporate leadership of Disney today are in the gutter, and they want to redefine family counter to God's original design and flaunt sin."