Ron DeSantis-Controlled Board Running Disney World Special District Abolishes DEI Programs


All DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) programs at the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District that includes Walt Disney World have been abolished, District Administrator Glenton Gilzean announced today. The board of the area of Orlando formerly called the Reedy Creek Improvement District said the move will end “hiring and contracting programs that discriminated against Americans based on gender and race, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.”

It said the announcement comes after an internal investigation into the district’s policies. “The district’s DEI committee will be dissolved and any DEI job duties will be eliminated,” according to a statement. Employees of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District “will also no longer be permitted to use any staff time to pursue DEI initiatives.”

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A Disney spokesperson wasn’t immediately available to comment.

This is the latest salvo in the standoff between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the company that one of the biggest employers and taxpayers in the state. Disney under CEO Bob Iger sued the governor and presidential hopeful for taking control of its long-held autonomous district in retaliation for the company’s criticizing legislation dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.” The law has been followed by a stream of rules targeting speech, books and education in the state amid DeSantis’ war on “wokeness.”

The DEI offensive also follows the Supreme Court’s striking down affirmative action in college admissions.

The “so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives were advanced during the tenure of the previous board and they were illegal and simply unamerican,” said Gilzean. “Our district will no longer participate in any attempt to divide us by race or advance the notion that we are not created equal. 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.”

“Under its Minority/ Women Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs, the Reedy Creek Improvement District routinely awarded contracts based on racially and gender driven goals to businesses on the basis of their owners’ race and gender. Through the program, the Reedy Creek Improvement District instituted gender and racial quotas to ensure that contractors met a certain threshold of diversity. In order to meet these quotas, it is estimated that the district had to pay millions of dollars more in order to find businesses who could comply.”

“After entering into a contract, Reedy Creek employees aggressively monitored contractor’s racial and gender practices, wasting taxpayer dollars. Previous contracts threatened contractors who did not keep up with racial or gender quotes with nonpayment and disqualification from future bidding.”

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