Jenna Barbee, a fifth-grade Florida teacher, is under investigation by the Florida Department of Education after showing her class the animated Disney movie “Strange World,” which features an openly gay character.
In a video posted to TikTok, Barbee said that she is being investigated for indoctrination after showing the film. “Our students had standardized testing all morning,” Barbee said in the video. “I thought it would be a great time to give them a brain break by showing a movie that related to what we were learning about in school…I chose this movie because it relates to our curriculum.”
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Prior to showing the film, Barbee acquired signed parent permission slips from students. She was then reported to the Florida Department of Education for indoctrination by Shannon Rodriguez, a board member of the Hernando County School District Board and parent of a student in Barbee’s class. The complaint related to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” legislation that has limited conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
The school district released a statement to parents saying, “Yesterday, the Disney movie ‘Strange World’ was shown in your child’s classroom. While not the main plot of the movie, parts of the story involves a male character having and expressing feelings for another male character. In the future, this movie will not be shown. The school administration and the district’s Professional Standards Dept. is currently reviewing the matter to see if further corrective action is required.”
On a May 9 meeting, both Barbee and Rodriguez spoke to board members regarding the conflict. “A school board member, an elected official of power, who was supposed to be nonpartisan, is allowed to present to the public that she is Christian and that God appointed her to the board,” said Barbee. “And yet it is indoctrination that I showed a Disney movie.”
“It is not a teacher’s job to impose their beliefs upon a child: religious, sexual orientation, gender identity, any of the above. But allowing movies such as this assists teachers in opening a door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms,” said Rodriguez. “As a leader in this community, I’m not going to stand by and allow this minority to infiltrate our schools…God did put me here.”
Cassie Palelis, Florida Department of Education press secretary, said that the complaint will be next be reviewed by an investigator and attorney.
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