DeSantis-controlled Disney World district abolishes diversity, equity initiatives

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a town hall event in Hollis, N.H., Tuesday, June 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Diversity, equity and inclusion programs were abolished from Walt Disney World’s governing district, now controlled by appointees of Gov. Ron DeSantis, in an echo of the Florida governor’s agenda which has championed curtailing such programs in higher education and elsewhere. 

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District said in a statement that its diversity, equity and inclusion committee would be eliminated, as would any job duties connected to it. Also axed were initiatives left over from when the district was controlled by Disney supporters, which awarded contracts based on goals of achieving racial or gender parity. 

Glenton Gilzean, the district’s new administrator who is African American and a former head of the Central Florida Urban League, called such initiatives “illegal and simply un-American.” Gilzean has been a fellow or member at two conservative institutions, the James Madison Institute and the American Enterprise Institute Leadership Network, as well as a DeSantis appointee to the Florida Commission on Ethics. 

The creation of the district, then known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, was instrumental in Disney’s decision to build a theme park resort near Orlando in the 1960s. 

The DeSantis appointees took control of the renamed district earlier this year following a yearlong feud between the company and DeSantis.