Florida Goes After Teacher Who Played A Disney Movie Featuring A Gay Character In Class

A teacher in Florida is currently under investigation by the state’s Department of Education after being reported by a school board member for showing a Disney movie in her classroom. 

Jenna Barbee, a fifth-grade teacher at Winding Waters K-8, showed her students the movie “Strange World,” which features an openly gay character. Barbee claims that the film was related to her students’ Earth science lesson and did not contain sexually inappropriate content.

The incident has sparked controversy due to a law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis last year, known as the Parental Rights in Education Act or “Don’t Say Gay” by critics. The law prohibits Florida educators from teaching about gender and sexual identity. Teachers have expressed concerns over the law’s vague wording, fearing potential consequences such as losing their teaching licenses or facing criminal penalties for non-compliance.

Strange World, indeed.

Critics argue that the law unfairly targets books and classroom materials that include gay and transgender characters and themes. Disney, in particular, has been vocal in its criticism of the law, leading to a year-long feud with DeSantis, who has sought to penalize the entertainment giant ahead of an anticipated presidential campaign.

The investigation into the incident was initiated after a parent complained to the principal about the movie’s suitability for students. School district officials confirmed that a fifth-grade teacher is being investigated for showing “Strange World.” The school board member who reported the teacher, Shannon Rodriguez, was endorsed by the conservative parents’ rights group Moms for Liberty during her election campaign last fall. Rodriguez has previously raised concerns about what she perceives as inappropriate content in school libraries.

“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 the door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms,” Rodriguez said.

During a school board meeting, Rodriguez defended her actions, arguing that teachers should not impose their beliefs on students and that movies like “Strange World” open the door to discussions that she believes have no place in classrooms. Rodriguez also expressed her belief that children should not become “a pawn in the crossfire” of liberal political agendas.

Barbee, in her defense, stated that every student in her class had a signed parent permission slip allowing for the viewing of PG-rated movies. 

“The word indoctrination is thrown around a lot right now, but it seems that those who are using it are using it as a defense tactic for their own fear-based beliefs without understanding the true meaning of the word,” Barbee said.

She also alleged that Rodriguez contacted her father, who is a judge, to inform him about the Department of Education complaint.

Information for this story was found via Twitter, Miami Herald, Tallahassee Democrat, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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