Florida teacher being investigated after showing Disney movie

·3-min read

A Florida teacher is under investigation by the Florida Department of Education (DOE) on accusations of indoctrination after showing her 5th-grade students a Disney movie that featured an LGBT+ character.

Jenna Barbee, a first-year teacher in the Hernando County School District, explained in a TikTok video that the investigation began after she chose to show a group of 5th-grade students the Disney movie Strange World after they completed standardised testing.

“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,” Ms Barbee said in the video.

According to Ms Barbee, students’ parents are given permission slips at the beginning of the year that allows them to watch PG-rated movies in class. She said all of her students’ parents signed the slips with almost no complaints.

Ms Barbee chose to show the students Strange World because she said was related to their unit on Earth science and ecosystems.

“What better way to showcase all these standards along with huge lessons of overcoming differences, spreading kindness, communication and chasing your dreams?” Ms Barbee said.

She clarified that the one LGBT+ character in the movie had “nothing” to do with her decision to show the movie.

However, due to the standardised testing day, Ms Barbee took some students from another teacher’s classroom as a few other students needed more time to complete the testing.

One of those students was the daughter of a school board member.

Upon hearing about the movie being shown, the parent and school board member reported Ms Barbee to the Florida DOE and conducted a meeting to express her perspective.

Ms Barbee said, “I understood her perspective, that she really does not want this shown at her house. I never saw that perspective before so I didn’t think it was a big deal but seeing how upset she was, I told her, ‘I understand my lesson’.”

The 5th-grade teacher said the investigation has resulted in a very disruptive classroom environment as the administration is in her classroom, pulling her out of class and calling students down to the office “to interrogate them”.

Ms Barbee said now an investigator from the Florida DOE is going to come to her class and pull her students out again, to investigate them individually.

The Independent has reached out to the Florida Department of Education for comment.

“I am not and never would indoctrinate anyone to follow my beliefs,” Ms Barbee said. “I will however always be a safe person to come to that spreads the message of kindness, positivity and compassion for everyone.”

In the last year, Florida has enacted legislation that restricts the curriculum that teachers may teach and books that may be taught.

Last summer, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed the Parental Rights in Education bill, nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill which prevents teachers from holding classroom discussions or instruction involving gender identity or sexual orientation from kindergarten through third grade.