Jenna Barbee, a 5th-grade teacher in Hernando County Winding Waters K-8 school, Florida, went viral after she shared a video on TikTok saying she was under investigation after showing her class a Disney movie with a gay character.
According to Barbee, the animated movie in question, Strange World, released in 2022, was tied to her lesson plan on the environment and ecosystems.
As a rule, the school required teachers to obtain permission slips from parents whenever they wanted to show the kids any content rated PG. Barbee says she had acquired these permission slips from every parent in her classroom, including Shannon Rodriguez, the parent who complained about the movie and reported her to the Florida State Department of Education.
Statement From the School
Rodriguez also sat on the school’s board. Karen Jordan, the spokesperson for the Hernando County Schools, said the school issued a statement to the parents following the incident.
“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.”
Don’t Say Gay
This comes in the wake of the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” legislation passed by Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, which banned certain instructions about sexual orientation in the classroom.
Teachers who violated this rule risked having their licenses revoked. The law was opposed by the LGBTQ community, who said it is a way of trying to erase them from the state.
Barbee addressed the board members on May 9th with Rodriguez present. Rodriguez said Barbee was ‘playing the victim’ and she broke the school’s policy of showing a movie without the approval of the school’s administration.
The Case Is Under Review
After she called the State Department of Education to complain, the press secretary Cassie Paleis said the case was under review and would be forwarded to the commissioner for direction on the next steps to take.
After Barbee’s video went viral, Paleis said they would not allow media pressure or politics to interfere with their investigations.
Many people had a lot of opinions about this case on social media. We have sampled some of the comments Reddit users made regarding the case.
One said that Rodriguez was gunning for political clout, “So all parents signed a permission slip. Then after signing, one parent complained. That parent just so happens to be on the school board…hmm
After reading this article, it is pretty clear that the school board member who filed the complaint is just looking for a way to politically elevate herself.”
Too Much Drama
Another pointed out that the subtle nature of the approach to gay topics in the movie did not warrant all that drama, “The crazy thing is they never talk about the kid being gay in the movie. He just says that he’s interested in a boy, and the other characters just continue on—-it’s almost as if he said a girls name.”
More Important Problems
Another said that Florida had more problems to deal with than the Barbee issue, “I just learned yesterday that Florida shipped 200 million boxes of oranges in 2002, and shipped 14 million last year, as a result of a disease. It would seem to an objective outsider that Florida has much more serious problems to work on than the choice of movies for 5th graders.”
“So if they ban this movie under this law, then if there’s any romantic subplot in any movie shown in the school, I would expect those movies to be banned as well on the same grounds as promoting sexual orientation, because “straight” is an orientation,” reasoned another user.
One user gave her own experience and expectations on such a scenario, “My brother just bought a house in Florida, moving away from our blue state. I’m a woman married to a woman and we are going to have our second kid this winter. My brother wants to host Christmas in Florida this year at his new place, telling everyone it will be a great family trip and we can all go to Disney etc. and I am ready to tell him we won’t attend because I don’t dare risk any complications or giving birth there. I fear they wouldn’t let my wife into the room or my child would be born and her mother wouldn’t be on the birth certificate.”
“You can sign the petition to remove the school board member. The rest of our school board is not like that at all,” urged one person.
Other People Exist
A user suggested that politicians should acknowledge that other people existed in the community, “It kills me how the politicians are completely and deliberately ignoring the actual indoctrination. No sense of irony at all. No one’s allowed to admit that LGBT+ people exist because that’s the agenda of “the libs;” while simultaneously claiming God appointed them to the school board to combat “wokeness.”
The verdict on whether Jenna Barbee broke the law is not out yet, but this case has opened a can of worms that re-sparked the debate on the controversial law. We will update you on how this plays out and who gets the last laugh.
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved