Florida teacher Jenna Barbee says she faces investigation for playing Disney movie

A Florida teacher says she is facing a state investigation after she played students a Disney film featuring a gay character.

Jenna Barbee said she was accused of "indoctrination" after showing the movie Strange World.

Hernando County School District confirmed to US media that a teacher is being investigated after a parent complained.

"[I] never would indoctrinate anyone to follow my beliefs," Ms Barbee said.

"I will, however, always be a safe person to come to that spreads the message of kindness, positivity and compassion for everyone," the fifth-grade teacher added in a six-minute TikTok video.

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education told CNN that an investigator is reviewing the complaint. The spokesperson pledged not to "allow politics and media pressure to dictate our process".

The BBC has reached out to Ms Barbee, the school district and the Florida Department of Education for comment.

The incident comes a year after Florida's Republican Governor signed the Parental Rights in Education Act - which critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" law. The measure initially banned education about sexual orientation and gender identity for pupils aged nine and under, and was recently expanded to cover all grades.

Mr DeSantis has waged his own battle against Disney, which criticised the policy.

Ms Barbee, a teacher at Winding Waters K-8 school, said she chose to show the animated sci-fi movie because it related to the class curriculum of earth science and ecosystems. She said she received signed permission slips from parents to watch a PG-rated film, which she said she played after students finished a standardised test.

Strange World, released in 2022, includes Disney's first-ever openly gay character named Ethan Clade, who in one small plotline of the film has a crush on another male character.

In a message from the school district to parents, a spokesperson said the district was "reviewing the matter to see if further corrective action is required", noting that "while not the main plot of the movie, parts of the story involve a male character having and expressing feelings for another male character".

It added that it would not play the movie in the future.

In an interview with CNN this week, Ms Barbee said she resigned from the school because of "politics" and "the fear of not being able to be who you are" within the public school system.

During a school board meeting on 9 May, school board member Shannon Rodriguez said she was the parent who complained to the department of education, according to US media outlets.

"It is not a teacher's job to impose their beliefs upon a child," Ms Rodriguez said during the meeting, adding that the movie opened the door "for conversations that have no place in our classrooms".

Ms Barbee says that students are already discussing this type of topic at school.

"These students are talking about things way beyond this (movie)," she told CNN. "This door that she's talking about, it's been open."

She added that her students have been inquiring about the movie since the incident, but she has been telling them to ask their parents about it instead.

"All of my students are asking, 'Why is that so wrong? Why is it inappropriate? Why are you in so much trouble because of this little part of the movie?'" she said. "I was never trying to indoctrinate my students by showing them something that had differences and diversity."

Ms Barbee has also claimed an investigator with the department of education was pulling students out of class to ask them about it.

"Do you know the trauma that that is going to cause to some of my students?" she said in her TikTok video.

The probe comes a month after entertainment giant Disney sued Governor DeSantis in federal court, alleging he was punishing the company for exercising its freedom of expression rights in criticising the policy. An oversight board aligned with Mr DeSantis has filed a countersuit against Disney.