Reading time: 3 minutes
A harmless mural painted over the summer at Grant Middle School’s Child and Adolescent Health Center in Michigan is being attacked by Christian parents who claim it is “satanic”.
It was painted by Evelyn Gonzales, a sophomore at the local high school, who won a competition to “brighten up” the health center with a painting of smiling children and the message “Stay healthy”. The end result was a mural that included a number of children, one of whom is wearing a shirt with the pink and white stripes of the transgender flag, another who is decked out in LGBTQ rainbow clothing, and a third with colors of the bisexual flag. The point is, everyone is welcome at school. No one is excluded. Although it’s not like the color scheme would be obvious to viewers unless they’re looking for it; on the surface, we are all looking at happy, smiling children.
But there are also other symbols that have drawn predictable outrage from conservative parents who think all the things part of a larger liberal conspiracy.
There is a demon face (center left) inspired by the Genshin Impact video game.
There is also a “Hamsa hand” (far left) which in some cultures is believed to bring good luck.
Gonzalez said the purpose of his art was simply “to make people feel welcome”.
Again, none of this would be obvious to casual viewers. But it sparked massive outrage at a school board meeting last week:
“I feel like she did a really good job. finding excuses to defend the things she put onsays Katelyn Thompson. “None of us are that stupid.”
As for the transgender flag, one parent suggested it was a disease.
“When adults claim things that look like real life, it’s mental illness“, explains Danielle Beight. “We need counselors, we need drugs that are going to help bipolar disorder, fix their brains.”
Along with another saying, it discriminates against Christian beliefs.
“We and our administration should accept that and remove all this hateful material from our schools, because it is hateful materialexplains Nate Thompson.
Some parents who spoke with a local reporter declined to give their names because they didn’t want to be harassed. The Anonymous Cowards left their prayer circle to explain why the mural shocked them…and why LGBTQ kids shouldn’t feel welcome anywhere.
“We just want a neutral place for our children,” said one. “We don’t want our children to be politicized.
“Our children should have neutral places where everyone feels loved and accepted and there doesn’t have to be anything on the wall that causes some kind of split“, said one of them.
Imagine how warped your mind must be with faith to look at this mural and say it is divisive. They say they don’t want their children to be politicized, yet they are those who demand that LGBTQ children be excluded of all. They are the ones demanding that trans kids not be allowed to use proper restrooms. They are the ones demanding that schools act as if LGBTQ people don’t exist and that acknowledging their existence (in Florida) is tantamount to some kind of propaganda campaign.
Not all parents felt this. Tracey Hargreaves came to the defense of the mural and called out the outrage from other parents in the neighborhood:
“I’m a conservative, right-wing, gun-loving American,” Hargreaves said at the meeting. “And I’ve never seen so many bigoted people in my life.”
In an interview with TODAY.com, Hargreaves said: “The meeting turned into a hate fest. Usually there are 10 people at these meetings, 50 showed up. It wasn’t even about the fresco… People were talking about how we should pray gays.”
“I had to get up and say something,” added Hargreaves. “It was out of control. You can’t catch gay, honey. It’s not contagious.”
Hargreaves added that the symbols were treated as if they were “satanic”. They were not.
But after chasing Gonzalez from that board meeting in tears, injecting their Christian conspiracy theories onto his artwork that was supposed to bring people joy, the fanatics got what they wanted.
Trustees announced late last week that the mural would be revised to remove the Hamsa hand and demon image. The children, however, would stay. Gonzalez agreed to these changes, in part because those images weren’t on his original submission. It wasn’t until she painted the mural and realized there was more space than she had anticipated that she added these icons to fill the space.
If that’s what it takes to keep the rest of the mural, and if Gonzalez is okay with the changes, so be it. But none of that will stop those same bigoted parents from spreading conspiracy theories about what the artwork Actually means. Instead of accepting the intentions of the child who created the frescothey are driven by their Christianity to claim that their bad faith interpretation of the image is the only correct take.
At least the school officials are upholding the art and the intent behind it, even making these minor changes. Unlike conservative parents, they know what it means to support children.