A middle school in rural Michigan will finally remove a controversial mural with LGBT and demonic imagery, which was protested against by parents for nearly a year.
The mural, painted by a student, covered a wall at the Grant Middle School health center.
A new agreement between Grant Public Schools and Family Health Care, the agency that runs the health clinic at the school, says the mural must be removed before the end of October, reported the Detroit Free Press.
At a school board meeting in October of last year, parents expressed concerns about some of the themes in the mural.
One meeting attendee told the school board that the demonic and LGBT imagery discriminate against Christian beliefs.
The parents and the district should “get all of this hate material out of our schools, because it is hate material,” Nate Thompson said about the anti-Christian bias, according to local WZZM News 13.
The student defended the imagery with alternate explanations of their meaning, disclaiming any political, identity or spiritual intent.
But some parents weren’t satisfied with this explanation, said one concerned resident.
“I feel like she did a really good job finding excuses to defend the things she put on,” Katelyn Thompson said at the meeting. “None of us are that stupid.”
Specifically, parents objected to a mask in mural that they said was demonic, which the Washington Post defended as a part of video game imagery.
But video games are often littered with demonic signs and symbols.
The Post, however, had no excuses for others parts of the mural’s demonic themes.
The mural has “references to ‘The Owl House,’ a Disney cartoon about a young girl studying witchcraft in the demon realm that has been widely celebrated for its queer representation,” said the Washington Post, following last year’s October board meeting.
There is also no ambiguity about the depictions of students wearing Gay Pride, transgender and other queer symbols, which were clearly intentional.
The board decided at the time that the mural would stay up in keeping with their “nondiscriminatory policy,” said WZZM.
But in June the board decided to not renew the contract with Family Health Care, a decision which was challenged by the company, with the help of some parents, said NBC News.
The vote cutting ties with Family Health resulted in the resignation of the board president, Neil Geers, said a local TV news station.
On Sept. 12, local WOODTV 8 reported that since the resignation, a new contract has been negotiated with the health-care provider and the school.
“The new three-year contract includes increased transparency and regular updates provided to the board by the clinic,” said the report. “The board will also appoint three parents or guardians and three representatives to an advisory committee that meets four times yearly.”
The agreement also includes the stipulation for the removal of the mural.
Future artwork must also be approved by the superintendent and the board president, and not just left to students – or activist adults – to decide.