WEEKI WACHEE, Fla. (WFLA) — A fifth-grade teacher in Florida is currently under investigation after she showed a Disney movie that featured a gay character in class.
Jenna Barbee, who teaches at Winding Waters K-8 in Brooksville, says she originally thought the movie, “Strange World,” was appropriate for students to watch since it is rated PG. Despite the rating, school district policy states all movies must first get approval from school leadership before they can be viewed by students.
“I was showing a movie to my students about Earth because that’s our current lessons in science,” Barbee said.
Disney’s description of the film states it’s a movie about a family of explorers trying to save their world from a strange power outage.
The film features a gay teenager, which is what sparked concern for a parent and Hernando County School Board member Shannon Rodriguez.
“Movies such as this, they assist teachers in opening a door and, please hear, assist teachers in opening a door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez reported Barbee to the Florida Department of Education for showing the film without permission. During a school board meeting, Barbee admitted she made a mistake by not seeking approval but says she didn’t think the film would cause controversy.
“I showed a Disney movie that had a character who was gay, which is only portrayed in two minutes and 30 seconds across the entire hour and 45-minute film, and that didn’t faze me because there’s no sexualization or inappropriate content,” Barbee said.
The Hernando County School District’s Department of Professional Standards is now investigating Barbee, and the district has since told parents “Strange World” will no longer be shown in its classrooms.
“Now all my students have to be interviewed about what kind of teacher I am and what exactly does that show them?” Barbee said during the board meeting.