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Florida Teacher Moves on After ‘Strange World’ Controversy, Announces Children’s Book

disney strange world jenna barbee
Credit: LinkedIn and Disney

Earlier this year, Disney fans and movie enthusiasts united in defense of a Florida-based teacher who was investigated for “indoctrination” and attacked after showing the Disney movie Strange World in her fifth-grade classroom.

Jenna Barbee was teaching in Brooksville, Florida (within the Hernando County School District) when she decided to show the new animated film (which features a same-sex romance and a gay character) to students after they’d finished taking a test.

A parent from the school board named Shannon Rodriguez complained, citing her parental rights and claiming that the movie was “stripping the innocence” of her child even though the romance in the film is not a major plot point.

Barbee was not only investigated and harmed professionally (so much so that she resigned from her position), but was also personally attacked online. A petition to remove Rodriguez from the school board gained significant traction, but the damage was already done when it came to Barbee.

Hundreds speak out over Florida Disney movie controversy

Florida Teacher Jenna Barbee (right) has resigned after showing her class Disney’s Strange World. Jenna Barbee was teaching in Brooksville within the Hernando County School District at the time. Credit: Disney/LinkedIn

Choosing Love, Not Hate

The English teacher and mother now teaches at a private school, and has reportedly chosen to move past the career-altering controversy by writing a children’s book inspired by the experience.

In an interview with PinkNews, Barbee explained that she has created her own children’s book publishing company, and that she is publishing her own book called Two Fires.

Two Fires focuses on the contrast between positivity and negativity. Negative energy might  “burn hot and fast”, but it also “burns out quickly.”

Positive and kind energies like love, however, are “harder to have.”  “You have to love yourself and your darkest parts,” Barbee added in the interview.

Disney's Strange World

Disney’s Strange World is a movie that has created controversy in Florida, because a Florida teacher showed the movie (which features a same-sex romance and a character with a non-heterosexual sexual orientation) to her class. Credit: Disney

“I Turned It Into a Positive Message”

“I used all the negative energy from the people who would say really nasty things to me and I turned it into a positive message to get out there,” she explained.

Barbee is reportedly no longer being investigated (although PinkNews describes the investigation as “pending”), but she is keeping the focus on her students.

“It’s our children who are losing out here,” she explained, “because as [a] teacher we go to school, train, and then get a job and now we’re being told exactly what to do, not to do and how to do it.”

Strange World

Credit: Disney

“Teachers Are Terrified”

“You’re so worried about saying even one wrong thing because a student might go tell their parent and the teacher could get fired,” she added sadly. “Teachers are terrified – we’re extremely micromanaged.”

Barbee is determined to stay in Florida (which is led by Governor Ron DeSantis) and improve the state’s tolerance, however. “I’m a dreamer and I’m a fighter and as much as I’m ready to move to Tennessee or Colorado, which are so ahead of the times, this is my home state and I can’t just run from it,” Barbee continued in the interview.

“I have to make sure things change here first and I leave my mark before I go,” she declared.

Have you been following the investigation involving Jenna Barbee? Do you think that it was fine to show the movie Strange World (which is classified as a family movie) to students?

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

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