Florida educators have been trying to navigate the battle ground that is the state’s legal system for over a year. There’s been a slew of bills proposed or passed recently attacking Florida’s LGBTQ+ community, with many aimed at the transgender community.
Governor Ron DeSantis passed the colloquially named “Don’t Say Gay” bill last year that now affects students from kindergarten through twelfth grade, banning teachers from teaching about gender identity or sexual orientation. Until recently, the bill only affected kindergarten through third grade but was just expanded last month. Apparently that law extends to Disney movies as well, as one Florida educator just found out.
Twitter user Carl Zee, @c350Zee, shared a post on Twitter saying “my friend showed Disney’s Strange World (2022) in a Florida classroom and one student reported it to their parents. Now she’s under investigation by the state. Florida is not safe for teachers. DO NOT MOVE HERE,” he finishes. He attached a copy of the letter informing the teacher she was under investigation and the post went viral.
My friend showed Disney’s Strange World in a Florida classroom and one student reported it to their parents. Now she’s under investigation by the state.
Florida is not safe for teachers, DO NOT MOVE HERE. pic.twitter.com/rZJPdadz28
— Carl Zee (@c350Zee) May 11, 2023
Many of the replies directly under his post agreed with the investigation, calling the movie “woke nonsense” and “indoctrination” and claiming that the teacher technically broke the law by showing a copyrighted movie in a classroom without permission from the company. Others argued that teachers show movies in school all the time as a way to reward students for doing well, giving them a break, or even as part of the curriculum.
The quoted retweets of the post shared outrage over the teacher being investigated, stating that the representation in Strange World is so diverse that the queerness of it isn’t even a major focus. Several shared the opinion that Florida isn’t just unsafe for teachers, it’s unsafe for everyone at this point.
It’s unclear if the movie was shown as part of the curriculum or just as an easy day for the students, but it was made clear that the teacher does send home permission slips that parents need to sign to allow their children to watch the movies while in class. Although Disney is known for their support of the LGBTQ+ community, their media still leans heavily towards family-friendly, traditional values.
When it’s not enough that teachers are already proactively covering themselves and their choices, current and potential Florida teachers are scared to teach anything for fear of retaliation. The current state of the Florida education system has already caused several former teachers to leave the schools and even the state. Although actual repercussions probably won’t be seen for another year or two, it doesn’t bode well for Florida students or teachers that educators can now be investigated for showing movies in class.
What do you think about this situation? Stay tuned for the latest updates about Disney and Florida from Inside the Magic.