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Disney honors Pride month and keeps some pandemic rules for now

“I was lost, desperate to connect with someone who understood what I was feeling. That all changed when I arrived at Disneyland.”



Graphic via the Walt Disney Company's Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Division

ANAHEIM – The Walt Disney Company’s Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, (DPEP) is celebrating and honoring Pride this year, highlighting its LGBTQ employees as well as supporting a welcoming and embracing work environment where LGBTQ+ cast members are encouraged to be their authentic selves.

Writing for the company’s blog, Michelle Mockler, DPEP’s External Communications Manager profiled  James Heath, a Senior Duty Manager at the Disneyland California Adventure Park. Heath, who has been employed by the Disney company since he was 17, related his personal experiences with Disney that he said shaped not only his career as an employee but as a gay man as well.

In the winter of 2000, Heath applied for a job position in hopes of fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a cast member, a term that Disney describes it employees as. After several interviews, James was offered a cast member role as a Food & Beverage Host.

According to Heath, he didn’t realise that position working at Disneyland had just given him something far more important than a job… “It gave me a place to belong,” he told Mockler.

Mockler writes that just two years prior, Heath had made the decision to come out as gay. At 15 years old, he found himself as the only openly gay student in his school.

“While I was fortunate to have supportive family and friends by my side, I was missing something truly critical at this time in my life: Other people like me. I was lost, desperate to connect with someone who understood what I was feeling. That all changed when I arrived at Disneyland.”

At Disney, James found himself working alongside other LGBTQ+ cast members. He found people, with whom he could share stories, compare experiences and talk through challenges.

“Being gay was no different to my coworkers and leaders than any of the other countless qualities that make each of us unique.”

Twenty-one years later, the now thirty-eight year old Senior Disney Manager related; “Sometimes I wonder who I would be today had I not had this safe place to grow into my own skin. I was fortunate to have allies who courageously pushed against outdated ideas to give me a safe place to thrive.”

Heath says that he’s found himself in the role of leader, mentor, ally and advocate.

“It’s my turn to give back and help to further our culture of inclusivity. Somewhere out there, a future cast member is looking for a place where they can belong. I’m committed to helping them find it at Disney.”

As Disney celebrates Pride Month, this past week as the State of California lifted most of the restrictions imposed by California state and local health officials and Governor Gavin Newsom. However, Disney officials have decided to keep in place for the time being some of those measures.

“I don’t want to say we are going to go back to the way it was,” Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said Thursday about managing the parks. “I want to be really smart in the way we do this.”

The parks at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in Orange County are continuing to reopen in phases, but a handful of the COVID-era changes are going to stick.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times this past week, D’Amaro said that the company is poised to keep “in place a reservation system that was adopted to manage visitor numbers under the state-imposed capacity limits and the continued use of a virtual queuing system that was designed to give all parkgoers a shot at visiting the most popular attractions.”

Currently valid theme park admission as well as a confirmed park reservation about both required if a guest wishes to visit either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. Park Pass Reservations are also currently required at Disney World.

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Orange County

Vice-mayor of the Irvine City Council verbally attacked in xenophobic rant

Tammy Kim is speaking out after being subjected to a xenophobic rant from a city resident at last week’s council meeting



Tammy Kim, vice-mayor of the Irvine City Council (Screenshot via KTLA 5)

IRVINE – KTLA 5 News reporter Kimberly Cheng says that Tammy Kim, vice-mayor of the Irvine City Council, is speaking out after being subjected to a xenophobic rant from a city resident at last week’s council meeting.


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Orange County

Pronoun use sparks battle- LGBTQ publisher attacks policy on Facebook

“After outing him as publisher of The Pride LA, he deleted his comment from the thread in the Facebook Group and blocked me on Facebook”



Screenshot the Los Alamitos Unified School District Board Meeting via YouTube

LOS ALAMITOS – Tensions are running high in the Los Alamitos Unified School District after parents learned that a teacher at Oak Middle School at the start of the school year asked his students to let him know what their preferred pronouns are during classes. 

Current and former students told Spectrum News Orange County Bureau that it was the teacher’s way of creating an inclusive and welcoming classroom experience.

He wanted his students to know that they are in a safe space,” said a student who did not want to be named.

This past week’s school board meeting was conscientious as numerous people spoke out passionately about their viewpoints, with those vehemently opposed saying that the blame is directly on the school board for fostering what they claim is a growing leftist woke agenda.

A parent who said she pulled her children out of the schools told Spectrum News she will run for the school board in part because; “The CRT (critical race theory), everything has gone so woke and so left that I can’t take it anymore.” She then added, “I am concerned about what they are teaching, about what’s being dripped in the classroom with the racism, the CRT, the sexual stuff, everything. There’s so many things. Even a tiny comment could twist a kid’s brain.”

Numerous students took to the podium to defend the teacher’s actions telling school board members that affirming support for LGBTQ+ students was critical.

One of the parents who is organizing a recall petition for the school board implied that the teacher was acting in a deviant manner. “[The teacher] had been asking students to share their gender identification and gender preference and not be scared to do that, but you could see it as a certain way of communicating with children,” Robert Aguilar said to Spectrum News outside the school board meeting. “However, there are parents that believe that is not the place for a science teacher. There was some concern, ‘Why would an adult man be asking minor children under the age of 14 about their sexuality?'”

The battle over the pronouns took to social media in a Facebook group as well. In an email and a phone call with the Blade Thursday, Los Alamitos resident Larry Tenney explained:

Rossmoor is a subdivision in Los Alamitos, CA. Local schools fall under the jurisdiction of the Los Alamitos Board of Education. Like many communities around the country this past year or two, Los Alamitos has seen a rise in activists on the right attacking its board of education. At the core are issues re: LGBTQ students & education and Critical Race Theory,” Tenney wrote. “There are rumblings about recalling the members of the Board of Education who local homophobic MAGAs call liberals & marxists. For the most part, the school district is simply following the laws and guidelines of the State of California.”

Neighbors in Rossmoor have created and maintain a Group board on Facebook

Tenney explained;’ “As an Orange County local with family living in the Rossmoor subdivision, I’m a member of the Facebook Group. Today I noticed one of the group’s moderators had posted this article, [Spectrum News] After reading the article, I scanned the comments on Facebook. I found one comment in particular to be both ignorant and offensive. The comment was left by Mr TJ Montemer in regards to a questionnaire a middle school teacher had asked his students to fill out at the beginning of the year noting their preferred name/nickname and pronouns. By his post, Montemer seemed disgusted, outraged even, with the idea.” 

Screenshot of Facebook comment courtesy of Larry Tenney

I wasn’t familiar with Mr Montemer so I did some Googling and discovered based on his digital footprint that he was the owner of Mirror Media Group which publishes a handful of local tabloids in the West LA/Santa Monica area and an LGBTQ tabloid called The Pride LA. The later shocked me given Mr Montemer’s ignorant comment on Facebook,” Tenney told the Blade. 

Screenshot courtesy of Larry Tenney

Realizing this, I went back to the Facebook Group and decided to leave a reply to Montemer expressing my disgust that the publisher of The Pride LA would be posting such ignorant homophobic things. I also informed him that California law requires 7th grade students receive 10-13 hours of sex education and that includes LGBTQ awareness and understanding,” Tenney explained.

Various other members of the group had  replied to Montemer too Tenney said adding that he had tweeted about the comments.

After outing Montemer in the Facebook Group as publisher of The Pride LA, he deleted his comment from the thread in the Facebook Group and blocked me on Facebook but not before I had screenshot his original comment. I don’t know, maybe he didn’t want his right-wing Orange County friends to know he was publisher of The Pride LA?” Tenney said.

Attempts to reach Montemer or any staff of The Pride LA by the Los Angeles Blade were unsuccessful.

The battle over the use of pronouns in the Los Alamitos Unified School District is reflective of controversies in thousands of school districts across the United States over the past 14 months, driven in part by severe disagreements over requirements for face masks and vaccinations to battles over the rights of Transgender students.

The Los Alamitos school board is not alone. Across the country, conservative parents and right wing political groups have organized and protested local school boards over the same issues.

The atmosphere has become so alarmingly toxic that The National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Joe Biden this week begging for Federal protection. The group was founded in 1940 and represents over 90,000 school boards nationwide.

The letter read in part; “Coupled with attacks against school board members and educators for approving policies for masks to protect the health and safety of students and school employees, many public school officials are also facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula.

This propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class.”

According to the Associated Press, there are more than 30 school board recall efforts nationwide. School boards have become political war zones in the battle for control over children’s minds and beliefs.

Los Alamitos USD Board Meeting Tuesday, September 28, 2021:

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Orange County

Disney replaces annual passes, Magic Key on sale now

The biggest change from the old program is that this new system requires users to make a reservation before they visit Disneyland



Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland (Courtesy of Disneyland Resort)

ANAHEIM – Disney Parks announced this week that its Disneyland Resort Magic Key Program was activated this week replacing its popular annual passports — which were discontinued earlier this year.

Magic Key, which went on sale Wednesday, gives Disneyland fans the chance to pay a set price for repeat admission, with a higher cost translating to more available dates and fewer blockout days.

According to Disney Parks, the biggest change from the old program is that this new system requires users to make a reservation before they visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, regardless of which one they choose. Those can be obtained up to 90 days in advance and are available upon Magic Key purchase.

(Note: making a reservation for both parks only counts as one reservation, but the holder “must enter the first park as designated in their park reservation” before going into the other; additionally, they won’t be able to enter the second park until after 1 p.m.)

The company added that some Magic Key benefits and features may not be available during periods of limited capacity and are subject to change or cancellation without notice. Certain attractions, restaurants, experiences, services and other offerings may be modified or unavailable, have limited capacity and may be subject to limited availability or even closure. Offerings are not guaranteed.

Here are the details of all four options, which include a breakdown of monthly payments that is only available to eligible California residents.

Level: Imagine Key pass (Southern California residents only)
Price: $399 (or $179 down payment + 18.34/month)
Blockout days: Select dates (see calendar)
Park reservations held at once: 2
Discounts: 10% merchandise, 10% dining
Parking: Not included

Level: Enchant Key pass
Price: $649 (or $179 down payment + $39.17/month)
Blockout days: Select dates (see calendar)
Park reservations held at once: 4
Discounts: 10% merchandise, 10% dining
Parking: Not included

Level: Believe Key pass
Price: $949 (or $179 down payment + $64.17/month)
Blockout days: Select dates (see calendar)
Park reservations held at once: 6
Discounts: 10% merchandise, 10% dining
Parking: 50% off on valid dates

Level: Dream Key pass
Price: $1399 (or $179 down payment + $101.67/month)
Blockout days: No
Park reservations held at once: 6
Discounts: 20% merchandise, 15% dining
Parking: Included

Magic Key allows holders to unlock other benefits, including access to Magic Key terrace, a reservation based lounge for participants and their family and friends; special experiences and collectibles; first access opportunities to new offerings; discounts at select locations in the Downtown Disney District; and the opportunity to buy special merchandise and menu items.

Full details about the program can be found here.

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