A Hernando County, Florida, fifth grade teacher is under investigation by the school district and state Department of Education after showing a Disney movie with an openly gay character.
Jenna Barbee is a first-year teacher at Winding Waters K-8 who is being investigated by the Hernando County School District and Florida Department of Education for showing the Disney movie ‘Strange World’ to her fifth-grade students.
The movie features a character named Ethan Clade who happens to be gay and is played by an openly gay comedian named Jaboukie Young-White.
But Barbee did not show the students the movie because it had a gay character. In fact, she claimed on a TikTok video, and during a school board meeting on May 9 that she showed the movie to her students because they were learning about earth and ecosystems.
Barbee said in her TikTok video that school board member Shannon Rodriguez’s daughter is in her class. The daughter told her mother about the movie she and her peers watched in class, which resulted in the school board member reporting Barbee to the Florida Department of Education, Barbee claimed.
The issue is controversial because Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Act into law in 2022, which restricts discussions on topics like sexual and gender identity in classrooms. The act has been inaccurately referred to as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.
Barbee said it was her understanding she needed to have signed permission slips to show PG movies in her class, which she claimed to have required.
Rodriguez spoke about the issue during a school board meeting, saying the principal did not approve the movie, nor did any of the administrators, which she claims must approve all movies that are shown.
Barbee, though, took Rodriguez’s actions as an attack.
On May 9, Barbee spoke during the public portion of the school board meeting, oftentimes taking shots at Rodriguez for not addressing the issue as a parent of a student in her classroom, but instead as a school board member.
‘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 belief without understanding the true meaning of the word,’ Barbee said. ‘The craziest thing about this is the abuse of power she is allowed to use and that nothing is being done about it.’
Rodriguez did not immediately respond to inquiries about the matter.
During the school board meeting, she said it was her job, as a parent, to teach her child about the ‘birds and the bees’ in relationships, and to determine at what age to teach those lessons.
‘I want to embark on those conversations by not following policy and procedure,’ Rodriguez said. ‘Ms. Barbee stripped me of my right as a parent to have those conversations prematurely.’