A Florida teacher says the state is investigating her for showing students the Disney movie 'Strange World,' which features an LGBTQ character
- A teacher in Florida says she is being investigated for showing her students "Strange World."
- "Strange World" features Disney's first openly LGBTQ lead character.
A teacher in Florida says the State Board of Education is investigating her after she showed Disney's "Strange World" to her fifth-grade students as part of a "brain break."
Released in 2022, "Strange World" follows a family of explorers who travel through various jungles and other "uncharted" land. "Strange World" attracted backlash from conservatives after its release because one of the characters is Disney's first openly LGBTQ lead.
Jenna Barbee, a first-year teacher, confirmed in a TikTok post on Sunday that the state was investigating her. She says in the video that there were several students not normally in her class present when she showed the movie, one of which was the child of a school board member who is "on a rampage to get rid of every form of representation out of our schools."
"The school board member called the Department of Education on me for indoctrination before ever coming to our school to talk with me or admin about the situation," Barbee said.
@becomingabetterbarbee I am the teacher. Here is the truth. #indoctrination #disneymovie #disney #strangeworld #viraltweet ♬ original sound - Jenna Lynn
Florida has been at the forefront of Republican-led states pushing to remove material from public schools they deem "controversial," like books with LGBTQ themes or discussions about race. Mom's for Liberty, a conservative parent group that advocates for book bans, was founded in Florida and campaigns to elect conservative school board members.
Barbee said she showed "Strange World" to her class because it related to the Earth science unit she was teaching about ecosystems and how they interact with plants and humans. She said in the TikTok that she would never "indoctrinate anyone to follow my beliefs."
"My thought process was what a better way to showcase all these standards, along with huge lessons of overcoming differences, spreading kindness, communication, and chasing your dreams, a lot of which were in our social-emotional (learning) Florida best standards," she says in the video.
According to Barbee, she did not show the movie because one of the characters is LGBTQ, but she said several of her students have expressed to her that they are a part of the LGBTQ community and she has welcomed them.
Barbee is employed in the Hernando County School District at Winding Waters K-8 school, according to the school's website. Barbee, Winding Waters, and the school district did not immediately return Insider's request for comment on Monday.
"The LGBTQ aspect of the movie? They're harmless," Barbee said. "It's just a talked-about crush."
According to Barbee, she thinks that state investigators pulling her students into closed rooms to interrogate them is what will actually traumatize them.
"Their teacher showed a movie to help them connect to our curriculum and learn some valuable life lessons. But the minor representations that have nothing to do with the movie are such a big deal that, now, admin is in their room, pulling their teacher out, calling the students one by one down to the office to interrogate them in the middle of my lessons," Barbee said.
On May 11, Twitter user Carl Zee posted a photo of a letter from the State Board of Education with the recipient's name blocked out. The letter says the teacher who is receiving it is under investigation for allegations of "inappropriate conduct."
Zee indicated in the tweet that his friend, a school teacher, was being investigated after showing their class "Strange World."
The Florida Department of Education also did not return repeated requests for comment from Insider.
Barbee said that some of her students asked why she started taking down classroom decorations after the passage of several Florida laws banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory and LGBTQ topics.
"I said, 'well, this is what's happening,'" Barbee said in the video. "And they said, 'Why don't we get a say?' That's a good point. Why don't you get a say?"
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