An educator in Florida thinks that a right-wing school board member targeted her after a Disney movie was shown in her classroom. The state’s education department is conducting an investigation.
A Hernando County teacher said Tuesday that school board member Shannon Rodriguez had reported her to the Florida Department of Education because she showed her students the Disney animated movie Strange World, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. The film features the first out gay character in Disney history.
According to Winding Waters School fifth-grade teacher Jenna Barbee, the film reinforced Earth science lessons for her fifth-grade students, including Rodriguez's daughter.
“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 beliefs without understanding the true meaning of the word,” Barbee argued.
Educators in Florida are banned from discussing gender and sexual identity in the classroom after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation last year then the state's education department expanded it to all grade levels. Because of the statute’s vague wording, teachers have feared losing their teaching licenses due to the “don’t say gay” law.
Advocates claim it unfairly targets stories and classroom materials that depict queer and trans characters.
According to Barbee, the parents of every student in her class signed permission slips authorizing PG movies.
“Times have changed so much, and they are so micromanaged, they’re not allowed to teach anymore,” Barbee exclaimed. “They’re basically a caregiver who has to teach the standards. Teachers stay for the children, but because of the laws and the fear of being let go for saying one wrong thing, they can’t connect to their students.”
Rodriguez was elected to the school board last fall with the endorsement of the anti-LGBTQ+ conservative group Moms for Liberty. As Suncoast Newsreports, she has argued that school libraries are stocked with “smut” and “porn” and called for book removal.
At the school board meeting on Tuesday, Rodriguez said Barbee violated school policy by not getting the specific movie approved by the administration.
“It is not a teacher’s job to impose their beliefs upon a child: religious, sexual orientation, gender identity, any of the above,” Rodriguez said. “But allowing movies such as this, assist teachers in opening a door, and please hear me, they assist teachers in opening the door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms.”
See the teacher’s explanation for what happened below.
I am the teacher. Here is the truth. #indoctrination #disneymovie #disney #strangeworld #viraltweet