Child and Adolescent Health Center, Grant Middle School
School district officials and a Michigan high school student have infuriated parents who claim that the painted mural contains LGBT propaganda, depictions of Satan and the message of witchcraft.
The painting covers a wall inside a teen health center at Grant Middle School in Grant, Michigan, and was created by a sophomore at the local high school who won a competition.
The mural features hooded characters, bunny-headed nurses and a bear, and smiling students dressed in brightly colored clothes. One student wears a blue T-shirt with pink and white stripes – the colors on the transgender flag. Another student wears shorts overalls with a rainbow striped T-shirt and pantyhose underneath. Parents said the rainbow stripes represent the colors of the pride flag. Two of the other students are wearing bisexual tops in the colors of the flag – pink at the top, royal blue at the bottom and an interlacing purple stripe in the middle.
Among the students’ drawings, the artist added several smaller line drawings, including The mask that some fathers complained about is Iblis and the Hand of Hamsa, and it is considered a symbol of God’s hand in many cultures, but in this case, some adults claimed it as a symbol of magic. The mask and hand are both design elements that were not included in the artist’s original submission to the competition.
Angry parents express their fears
The debate over the mural’s meaning became heated — often to an uncivil degree — during a school board meeting, which was covered WZZMthe local Grand Rapids news station, last week.
During most of the meeting, angry parents claimed that the artist deliberately sabotaged the mural’s “Keep Your Health” theme to promote anti-Christian messages.
“It’s discrimination against Christian beliefs,” one man said during public comments, adding that it was also considered “hate material.”
One woman called for more counselors at school, saying, “When adults pretend things are like real life, it’s mental illness. We need counselors. We need medication to help treat bipolar disorder. Fix their brains.”
The teenage artist tried to calm her parents’ fears about her work and her intentions.
“I put my artwork out there to make people feel welcome,” she said in a trembling voice.
Responding to accusations from adults that she planned to include sinister images, she said, “That’s not what I’m part of. That’s not what I’m trying to post there.”
The student explained that the so-called devil’s mask is a character from a video game and that the hand drawn is a Latin symbol of protection. She eventually left the meeting crying.
Then one woman stood up and said, “I feel like she’s done a really good job finding excuses to stand up for the things she’s wearing. None of us are that stupid.”
Queer students say they find comfort in artwork
One student who identified as an eccentric, and who said they had been bullied by other children, said the mural made them feel included.
They told the parents in the room, “Perhaps you should care more about your children’s behavior rather than the art hanging on the wall.”
Another mother, who described herself as a “conservative, right-wing, gun-loving” American, warned parents not to brutally pursue the student artist.
“I’ve never seen more fanatical people in my life,” she said.
Some photos will be permanently removed
On October 13, district officials announce that after meeting with “all parties involved,” the artist removes all items, including the mask and whisper hand, that deviate from rendering the original management-approved design.
This means that the character in the pink and white striped shirt as well as the character in the rainbow stripes will remain.
“At Grant Public Schools, we are committed to promoting civilisation, respect, understanding and inclusion. We do not and will not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or bullying either in word or deed or on social media,” the district’s statement said.
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