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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis taps ex-pastor to Disney oversight board who once said men are turning gay because 'there's estrogen in the water from birth control pills': report

Mar 4, 2023, 22:08 IST
Business Insider
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis abolished Disney's self-governing abilities on Monday.
  • He's nominated five people to the new board that will have oversight over Disney's district.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' appointee to the new Disney oversight board once claimed men were turning gay because of estrogen in tap water, CNN reported.

DeSantis appointed board members on Monday after he signed a bill into law dismantling Disney's self-governing abilities. One of his nominees was former pastor Ron Peri, who is also the CEO of The Gathering – a Christian ministry.

CNN reported that Peri has made a string of derogatory comments against the LGBTQ community, including calling homosexuality "evil" and making a baseless claim that birth control pills being flushed into the water supply has made men gay.

"So why are there homosexuals today? There are any number of reasons, you know, that are given. Some would say the increase in estrogen in our societies. You know, there's estrogen in the water from birth control pills. They can't get it out," Peri reportedly said in a January 2022 Zoom discussion, which was posted on YouTube and later removed. "The level of testosterone in men broadly in America has declined by 50 points in the past 10 years. You know, and so, maybe that's a part of it."

Peri continued: "But the big part I would suggest to you, based upon what it's saying here, is the removal of constraint. So our society provided the constraint. And so, which is the responsibility of a society to constrain people from doing evil? Well, you remove the constraints, and then evil occurs."


Scientific studies have found that only less than 1% of the estrogen found in drinking water is from birth control pills and that the overall low levels of estrogen found in drinking water are not linked to adverse health effects or changes in someone's sexual orientation. CNN reported that this claim originated with a conspiracy theory by Alex Jones. In 2015, Jones asserted that "chemicals in the water" were "turning the friggin' frogs gay," The Texas Observer reported.

The pastor also likened homosexuality to a "disease" and claimed the LGBTQ community does not have a "stake in the future."

"There are a lot of unhealthy effects of a homosexual lifestyle," Peri said, according to CNN. "There are diseases, but it goes beyond that."

DeSantis said the state's senate is set to meet next week to confirm the new board members.

Nearly a year after Disney spoke out against DeSantis's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill, the Florida governor abolished the company's special authority on Monday. The bill formally called the Parental Rights in Education Act bans teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, Insider previously reported.


Since its inception in 1967, Disney had been under the Reedy Creek Improvement District and was able to appoint its own board members since the company owns a majority of the land. The district also allowed Disney to have its own fire unit, among other emergency services. The district will now be called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and Disney employees, owners, or operators will be prohibited from becoming board members.

"Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end," DeSantis said during a press conference on Monday, held at a fire station on Disney property. "There's a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day."

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