Florida teacher under review for showing Disney movie with gay character to students
Upon finding out that she had shown the movie to her kids, a parent reported her to the state Department of Education, claiming that the movie was not appropriate for students
May 17, 2023 8:53am
Updated: May 17, 2023 8:53am
A Florida teacher is under review for showing a Disney movie to her students that featured a gay character. The teacher claims she did not know about the law banning LGBTQ topics in classrooms.
In March 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law banning the discussion of LGBTQ subjects and sexual identity in grades from Kindergarten through third grade. Last month, the state voted to expand the regulation to all grades through high school.
Winding Waters School fifth grade teacher Jenna Barbee played the 2022 Disney movie “Strange World” in her classroom while she finished grading some standardized tests. The movie about a family of explorers, however, features a gay character.
Upon finding out that she had shown the movie to her kids, a parent reported her to the state Department of Education, claiming that the movie was not appropriate for students, according to Karen Jordan, spokesperson for Hernando County Schools.
Barbee claimed that she thought it was okay to play the movie and had all of her students sign permission slips to watch PG movies. She just didn't know the regulation was “increased” to her grade level, she added.
“I just found out today that they increased it to my level,” Barbee told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Monday night. “I had no idea whatsoever that this was such a big deal.”
“Yesterday, the Disney movie ‘Strange World’ was shown in your child’s classroom,” the school district wrote to the teacher. “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.”
According to the bill, teachers who violate the policy could be suspended from their jobs or even have their teaching licenses revoked.
The parent who reported Barbee, school board member Shannon Rodriguez, said the fifth-grade teacher should have gotten the movie approved before playing it.
“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 assist teachers in opening a door, and please hear me, they assist teachers in opening a door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms,” Rodriguez said at a May 9 school board meeting.