Catholic Church Forced a School to Cover ‘Obscene’ Pro-LGBTQ+ Mural

A queer 16-year-old high school junior is devastated. Her artwork is destroyed. And a charter school has a whole lot of explaining to do after a Catholic church demanded the school dismantle the student’s pro-LGBTQ+ mural.

It all started with an assignment for the student’s honors art class, NorthJersey.com reports. The task was to create a mural inspired by a famous artist. The student (who asked not to be named) decided to model her work off artist Keith Haring, who created socially conscious graffiti-style works in the 1980s.

The student’s final product was a mural with people holding up a rainbow heart.

While she was happy to pay homage to her queer identity with the artwork, the student had no idea this would be seen as a political act and spark so much controversy.

The student’s school is Bergen Arts and Science Charter School — which, as its name suggests, is a charter school. A charter school is a public school that is privately managed. And this particular charter school resides in a building owned and frequently used by a Catholic church.

The Rev. Paul Prevosto told NorthJersey.com parishioners began complaining to him that there was an “obscene” mural in their space. He immediately took action.

“It was offensive,” Prevosto said, adding that he told the school “to take care of it.” As landlord, the church had forced the school to sign a lease pledging to enforce Catholic values.

“Due to the Catholic nature of the Landlord, Tenant promises to conduct no affairs or establish any organizations that would be contrary to its Catholic moral values, ethics and faith,” the lease text states, according to NorthJersey.com.

The result? The school followed direction from its landlord and filled in the rainbow heart with a generic red hue. The student was understandably devastated.

“So … my school’s owned by a Catholic Church and they want me to take down my Keith Haring mural that supports the LGBT community,” she wrote on Twitter, according to NorthJersey.com. “They think it’s inappropriate and wrong for a school setting. I’m heartbroken and I really never thought this could actually happen. Please help.”

The church has stood firm in its decision, issuing a statement saying there were “symbols of sexuality” in the work and that the lease signed by the school prohibits any painting on the walls.

Hopefully, this artistic student will find a blank canvas for her work owned by someone a little more open-minded.

TAKE ACTION

Speak up and demand that the student’s mural is restored with a full apology. Sign our petition to tell her school and the Catholic church that this is unacceptable and that all our schools should have creative, inclusive murals.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You‘ll find Care2‘s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.
 

Image credit: thumb/Getty Images

67 comments

Gabriel C
Gabriel C18 hours ago

Signed

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Peter B
Peter B9 days ago

glad to sign this

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Paula M
Paula M12 days ago

signed

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Magdalen B
Magdalen B17 days ago

Pathetic!

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Barbara B
Barbara B19 days ago

Covering up for priests who abuse children and nuns - Obscene

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Ingo Schreiner
Ingo Schreiner19 days ago

such a shame

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Ganaisha C
Ganaisha Calvin20 days ago

Were we expecting any quality from a Catholic Institution?

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silja salonen
silja salonen20 days ago

this catholic high school does not adhere to the teachings of christ.

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Virginia Paula
Virginia Paula21 days ago

Sure the school has its right to be wrong. But they should not do it since they say they follow Christ who thought as how to love everyone. It an offense to Jesus to mainting such intolerance.

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Joanna M
Joanna M21 days ago

When I graduated a Catholic high school in 1998, we had a girl who had become pregnant and given birth in the spring. She was allowed to graduate (by completing her work at home) but not allowed to walk across the stage with the rest of us. Fair or not, that was simply accepted as the school's prerogative.

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