BrainPOP video discussing Black Lives Matter divides parents in Sarasota County

Parents in Sarasota County showed up at Tuesday night's school board meeting, some to raise concerns and others to show support for a new video on their children's online education platform 'BrainPOP.'

The debate centers around a video about the Black Lives Matter movement.

More than 100 parents had strong opinions about why racial sensitivity needs to be taught inside schools. Others argued the curriculum was too mature and politically charged for their children.

There were several tense moments outside the Sarasota County school district's headquarters between parents at odds over how racial sensitivity should be taught.

"I want to encourage the board to enhance cultural sensitivity and racial bias training for our educators and staff. Not get rid of it simply because these conversations can be hard or uncomfortable because these conversations are essential," parent Gretchen Lovewell said.

Other parents upset by the video spoke up.

"We were told the last meeting -- Dr. Asplen, transparency -- that we were removing the BLM curriculum," parent Ashley Cote said, referencing the superintendent.

The curriculum Cote is talking about is a 10-minute video discussing the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Trayvon Martin. The video is available on a site called BrainPOP, which is available to teachers and students in and outside the classroom.

According to the district, the video is marked "sensitive," which means it's blocked from being viewed inside any school, but can be viewed on a student's home network.

As the superintendent explained, BrainPOP is independent of the district and therefore the district has no control over its content.

"We can only regulate our school system. We can only manage the materials that are on our school devices and our networks," Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Brennan Asplen said.

The district says it is not aware of any teachers showing this video to their class. If they want to, they can put in a request to do so. Part of that request would require a parent's permission from each student in the class.