A fifth-grade teacher in Florida says she is under investigation after showing her class a Disney movie that features a gay character.
Jenna Barbee, who is listed as a fifth-grade teacher at Winding Waters in Brooksville, posted a video on TikTok describing the incident.
Barbee said her students were taking standardized tests the day she showed the movie. She did not specify a date. In her classroom were students that she normally has as well as other students not usually in her class who were finished with their testing, she said in the video.
She decided to show the movie “Strange World” to give students a “brain break” and because she said it relates to her classroom curriculum of earth science and ecosystems.
The movie features Disney’s first character who is openly gay. The character, Ethan Clade, who is voiced by comedian Jaboukie Young-White, is a biracial, queer teen who discusses having a crush on another male character, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
The movie is rated PG.
Barbee said that after showing the movie, she found out she was under investigation by the state Department of Education for “indoctrination.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the agency could neither confirm nor deny a pending investigation.
“I understand that the individual in question has discussed her case publicly,” the statement says. “However, we will not allow politics and media pressure to dictate our process.”
A spokesperson for the Hernando School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
Barbee said in her TikTok video that she did not choose to show the movie because it featured a gay character.
Barbee said she was worried that the investigation process would traumatize her students.
“Their teacher showed a movie to help them connect to their curriculum and learn some valuable life lessons, but the minor representations that have nothing to do with the movie are such a big deal that now admin is in their room pulling their teacher out, calling the students one by one down to the office to interrogate them in the middle of my lessons,” she said.
Material that references the LGBTQ community has been censored in Florida after the passage of the a bill notoriously referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which is meant to prohibit discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels.
“This is the public education system where students from all backgrounds cultures and religions are welcomed and should be celebrated and represented,” Barbee said. “I am not and never would indoctrinate anyone to follow my beliefs. I will however always be a safe person to come to that spreads the message of kindness, positivity and compassion for everyone.”
If you are struggling or thinking of harming yourself, you can reach out to a counselor with the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) young people. Text ‘START’ to 678-678 or call 1-866-488-7386.