FIRST ON FOX – The Florida district that governs the iconic Walt Disney World theme park and resort announced Tuesday it is abolishing all of its diversity, equity and inclusion programs and race-based hiring practices.
Glenton Gilzean, director of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District – a unique governing body that dictates economic, tax and other policies for the nearly 25,000-acre theme park – said the change is a reversal of the Disney-appointed Reedy Creek Improvement District polices.
“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,” he said.
The old district for the better part of 50 years kept Disney insulated from that state government and was described as having had a nearly indistinguishable relationship to that of being a Disney employee.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year led an effort in the Florida legislature to end the Reedy Creek special district after Disney opposed a GOP bill dealing with parental rights in their kids’ sex education at schools, then installed members to a new board.
“As the former head of the Central Florida Urban League, I can say definitively that our community thrives only when we work together despite our differences,” Gilzean added.
According to the new oversight board, which conducted an internal investigation into the district’s policies, the Disney-appointed district “routinely awarded contracts based on racially and gender driven goals to businesses on the basis of their owners’ race and gender.”
Through “Minority/Women Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise” programs, RCID instituted gender and racial quotas to ensure that contractors met a certain threshold of diversity.
In order to meet these quotas, the new oversight board estimates that the district had to pay millions of dollars more in order to find businesses that could comply.
The DeSantis-backed group says after Reedy Creek entered into a contract, its employees would “aggressively monitor[r] contractor’s racial and gender practices, wasting taxpayer dollars.”
The board also claims that previous contracts threatened contractors who did not keep up with racial or gender quotes with nonpayment and disqualification from future bidding.
Disney sued DeSantis over his takeover of the self-governing district in April, calling it akin to retaliation against the company’s free speech.
Newly-returned CEO Bob Iger recently spoke publicly on the matter in an interview with CNBC.
“Frankly, the company was within its right – even though I’m not sure it was handled very well – was within its right to speak up on an issue, constitutionally protected right of free speech,” Iger said. “To retaliate against the company in a way that would be harmful to the business was not something we could sit back and tolerate.”
The latest announcement comes after the Supreme Court’s decision in June which said college admissions programs that apply race considerations are unconstitutional. That 6-3 decision, which effectively outlawed what’s known as affirmative action, could create liability issues for companies that deploy the same practices in hiring, promotion and other staffing decisions.
One expert, Wild Hild of Consumers’ Research, told Fox News Digital that “there’s no question that affirmative action, racially based hiring and promotion schemes violate the Civil Rights Act.
“And you no longer have this even potential loophole of the affirmative action jurisprudence,” he said. “I think… you’re going to see a lot of companies, their legal compliance officers, are going to review what their DEI departments are doing and probably tell them to cut it out.”