A teacher in Hernando County, Florida is being investigated by the Florida Department of Education for showing her first-grade class the Disney movie Strange World. The teacher, Jenna Her Barbie, shared her story on TikTok, where it went viral. In the six-plus minute video, Barbie explains that she showed the film to give her students a “brain rest” after morning standardized tests. She split the students into those who had finished the test and those who had not. All parents had signed a permit permitting their children to screen the PG-rated film “without objecting to certain content.”
The reason for the investigation is that one of the split students was the daughter of a school board member. The board member subsequently reported Barbie, and she was pulled out of class. Barbie said she chose Strange because it is related to the curriculum on “earth science and ecosystems and how they interact, such as plants, humans, animals…” She added that the film is about working through differences, spreading kindness, communicating, and chasing dreams.
Released in 2022, Strange World features a family of explorers voiced by Gabriel Union, Lucy Liu, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Dennis Quaid. Among the characters is Ethan Crade, voiced by Jabookey Young-White, the first character to come out as gay in a Disney movie. Barbie said the LGBTQ+ aspect of the film was “harmless” and that “the parents in the movie kiss a lot, and it wasn’t even talked about.” Barbie noted that the LGBTQ+ aspect of the film was not the reason she showed it to her class.
At a May 9 public school board meeting, board member Shannon Rodriguez accused Barbie of violating school policy. Barbie insists she is not imposing her beliefs on her students and that she accepts everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. Barbie believes that the investigation and questioning by investigators have been more traumatic for the students than watching the movie.