BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — A fifth-grade teacher in Hernando County says that she is being investigated by the Florida Department of Education for showing the Disney movie, “Strange World,” to her students.
Jenna Barbee, who teaches at Winding Waters K-8 in Brooksville, posted a video to TikTok over the weekend that has gained national attention, saying that she is under investigation for “indoctrination for showing a Disney movie.”
What You Need To Know
- A fifth-grade teacher says that she is being investigated by the Florida Department of Education for showing the Disney movie, “Strange World,” to her students
- Jenna Barbee, who teaches at Winding Waters K-8 in Brooksville, posted a video to TikTok over the weekend
- The Hernando County School District issued a statement on Monday
She says her first year as a teacher already looked like it would be her last with the Hernando County School District. She says she resigned as a fifth grade teacher last month.
"I want to change things, and I felt like I can't from within. It's too much time and too much stress, and then this happened, and that sealed the deal for me that I made the right choice," Barbee said.
The animated film is a Disney movie with an openly out gay character. In the video, Barbee said that is not the reason she showed the movie to her students — she says she showed the film because it related to her curriculum about earth science and ecosystems.
“I was told by every teacher and mentor at our school that our method for approval by administration of showing movies was to have a signed parent permission slip for PG movies," Barbee said. "I had that from the beginning of the year. The whole fifth-grade team had signed permission slips for PG movies with no objections to specific content."
Barbee noted that she had one student who had objection to specific content, which was not showing the Buzz Lightyear movie, but that student was no longer in her classroom. (Tap on the image below to watch her video)
Barbee said that the reason she was turned in was because one of the students that came to her class to watch the movie that day was a school board member’s daughter.
Barbee and the school board member, Shannon Rodriguez, had spoken about the issue at a recent school board meeting.
“A school board member, an elected official of power who is supposed to be non-partisan, is allowed to present to the public that she is Christian and that God appointed her to the board. And yet it is indoctrination that I showed a Disney movie,” Barbee said.
“While Ms. Barbee is busy taking the light off herself and playing the victim, the real victims are our children. At what point is there a line between parenting and teaching?” Rodriguez said.
Barbee says Rodriguez reported her to the Florida Department of Education. While Rodriguez didn’t confirm that, she doubled down on her disagreement with showing the film to fifth graders.
“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," said Rodriguez.
Barbee provided a letter sent from the Department of Education that said it determined an investigation into the issue was warranted.
The Hernando County School District issued the following statement on Monday:
“Here is the notification we sent to Winding Waters K-8 parents:
HCSD Communications - 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. Thank you.”
Spectrum News reached out to the Florida Department of Education and they say while the teacher in question is openly discussing this matter, they won’t confirm or deny an investigation.