Florida Teacher Being Investigated by State Department of Education After Showing Disney’s ‘Strange World’ in Fifth Grade Classroom

Justin Giglio

Updated on:

Florida Teacher Being Investigated by State Department of Education After Showing Disney’s ‘Strange World’ in Fifth Grade Classroom

A Florida teacher is now under investigation by the state Department of Education after showing the Disney film “Strange World” to her fifth-grade students, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Florida Teacher Jenna Barbee

Jenna Barbee is a first-year teacher in the Hernando County school system who showed “Strange World” to her fifth-grade students because she felt the film tied into her students’ Earth science lesson. She is now under investigation by the state Department of Education for showing the film, and Barbee alleges that School Board member Shannon Rodriguez reported her for doing so. Rodriguez’s daughter is in Barbee’s class.

Rodriguez, who was elected to the school board last fall, was endorsed by a conservative parents’ rights group called Moms for Liberty. She has recently claimed there is “porn” on schools’ library shelves and has asked for books to be removed, according to Suncoast News. “Strange World” features Ethan Clade, a gay main character that has a crush on another male character named Diazo.

“It is not a teacher’s job to impose their beliefs upon a child: religious, sexual orientation, gender identity, any of the above. 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,” Rodriguez said.

Barbee took to her personal TikTok account to tell her side of the story:

Barbee notes that she is a first-year teacher as well as a first-time mother, saying she “had a lot of learning to do this year.” She also said that she had collected signed permission slips from all parents to allow the showing of PG-rated movies in class.

The Parental Rights in Education bill, more famously known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was passed by Florida’s House of Representatives in 2022. It prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in the state’s primary schools.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been at odds with Disney after the company took a delayed but strong stance against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill he signed into law. DeSantis and Disney have been in a full-blown feud recently, which now includes a lawsuit that has been filed by Disney against the Florida governor.

“Strange World” Called “The Worst Box Office Flop of 2022”

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ animated comedy adventure “Strange World” has lost the company nearly $200M, marking its place as “the worst box office flop of 2022” according to Deadline.

“Strange World” debuted in movie theaters on Thanksgiving and was quickly transitioned to Disney+ before Christmas, less than a month later, following a lackluster premiere week. The film was initially previewed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in early November. Recent reports show just how poorly the film performed following its full theatrical debut.

According to Deadline, Walt Disney Animation Studios invested more than $317 million in expenses for the film and has only recouped $120 million. A mere $35M was brought in from its time in movie theaters worldwide, a figure that is significantly less than what was spent just on advertising the film.

Disney's Strange World regarded as the worst box office flop of 2022 florida teacher

A star-studded cast includes the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, and Jaboukie Young-White as the adventurous, multi-generational Clade family of explorers. Gabrielle Union and Lucy Liu also lend their voices to the animated Walt Disney Animation Studios film. The comedy-adventure tackles the importance of saving the environment and the relationship between fathers and their sons. “Strange World” also introduces the first openly gay main character in a Disney animated movie.

The Clade Family, a world-renowned team of explorers, embark on a thrilling adventure into a mysterious and dangerous land inhabited by fantastical creatures. As they journey deeper into the unknown, the family must overcome their differences and work together to complete their most important mission yet. Along the way, they are joined by a mischievous blue blob, a three-legged dog, and other eccentric companions. But as they navigate the treacherous terrain, they must be careful not to let their disagreements jeopardize their mission and their lives.

Check out our full review of “Strange World” to see what we thought of this underperforming Disney film.

The poor performance of “Strange World” may have played a role in Disney’s decision to shy away from original movie ideas, opting instead to spearhead a number of live-action remakes and sequels as of late. The Disney+ film “Peter Pan & Wendy” was released last month. The live-action remake of the Disney classic “The Little Mermaid” is set to premiere this month.

Maia Kealoha will make her film debut as Lilo in the live-action remake of “Lilo & Stitch,” which is currently being produced and will exclusively launch on Disney+. It was also recently announced that QuestLove will be directing a live-action hybrid remake of “The Aristocats.”

Did you get the chance to see “Strange World” during its limited time in movie theaters or catch it on Disney+ since its fall release? Do you think it is appropriate for a fifth-grade classroom? Let us know what you thought about the movie in the comments below.

For the latest Disney Parks news and info, follow WDW News Today on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.


  • Justin Giglio

    Justin has been visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort since he was 2 years old. He considers Powerline to be the songbird of his generation. Contact Justin at justin@wdwnt.com