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Florida Drops Investigation Into Teacher Who Showed Disney Movie in Class

Hundreds speak out over Florida Disney movie controversy
Credit: Disney

Less than two weeks ago, the fight between Disney and Governor Ron DeSantis took a new turn. The company and the governor have been at each other’s throats for more than a year, but now the fight has affected someone who people may not have expected. It was announced that a Florida teacher was being investigated for showing the new Disney movie Strange World to her fifth-grade class. A parent — who was also a school board member — found out and demanded that the teacher be investigated. The issue was that Strange World has a gay couple in it, although their sexual orientation is not a part of the story.

Strange World

Credit: Disney

The Hernando County School District teacher, Jenna Barbee, claimed that she was showing the film because it fit in with her curriculum. The film tells the story of a family who explores a new world beneath their own. Ms. Barbee said that the movie helped her students learn about different ecosystems and the environment. At the beginning of the year, Barbee had sent out a form for parents to sign. The form gave Barbee permission to show Disney and Dreamworks movies. There was a section for parents to fill out if there were any specific films they didn’t want to be shown. No parent wrote down any films.

Strange World

Credit: Disney

Not long after the investigation was launched, Ms. Barbee gave the school her letter of resignation. She said that she resigned because of “politics and the fear of not being able to be who you are.” Ms. Barbee also said that she was unaware that Disney’s Strange World was a film that she should not show to her class, per the Parental Rights in Education bill. Originally, the bill only applied to Kindergarten through 3rd grade, but was expanded. Barbee was unaware of the expansion.

According to new reports, because Ms. Barbee resigned, the investigation into her actions has been closed. Per CNN:

The final report from Hernando County says, “The investigation was completed regarding the parent complaint. You had the PG(-rated movies) approval forms for all of the students and had connected the movie to the curriculum being taught.” The school system maintained Barbee violated the staff handbook, saying, “You are reminded … that you must seek and receive administrative approval before showing a film or video.”

Strange World

Credit: Disney

Teachers Stand Behind Ms. Barbee

Despite the fact that Ms. Barbee will not be returning to the school district, her fellow teachers have her back. A petition has been started to remove Shannon Rodriguez from the school board. Rodriguez was the parent who complained about the film being shown. She claimed that, by Barbee showing the film, she was “stripping the innocence of my 10-year-old.”

Strange World

Credit: Disney

The petition asks for Ms. Rodriguez to resign from her position, “as this is not a good fit.” Should Rodriguez refuse to resign from the school board, the petition asks Governor DeSantis to remove her, as he has that power. However, since the governor is a big supporter of the Parental Rights bill, it is unlikely he would remove Rodriguez from the board.

The petition to remove Rodriguez currently has more than 18,000 signatures on Change.org.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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