The fallout from a Florida charter school’s decision to oust its principal for teaching a lesson on Michelangelo’s David (1501-04)—deemed “pornographic” by one parent—continues to spread.
Shortly after the scandal erupted, the Florida Department of Education released an official statement clarifying that it would not prohibit classroom instruction on the iconic exemplar of Renaissance sculpture—despite the state’s increasingly censorious attitude regarding the teaching of other subjects. And earlier this week, the ultra-conservative institution Hillsdale College, which fundraised to help found the anti-David school Tallahassee Classical, cut ties with the school.
“The statue of David has artistic and historical value. Florida encourages instruction on the classics and classical art, and would not prohibit its use in instruction,” the Florida Department of Education’s communications director Alex Lanfranconi told Florida Voice. A department spokesperson added in a statement: “The matter at Tallahassee Classical School is between the school and an employee, and is not the effect of state rule or law.”
The entire scandal began as “a series of miscommunications” according to Hope Carasquilla, the now former principal of Tallahassee Classical. She told the Tallahassee Democrat she was forced to resign after parents complained about the impropriety of an art history lesson featuring Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David, a marble depiction of the biblical hero. As frenetic press coverage, memes and late-night comedy skits ensued, the chairman of Tallahassee Classical doubled down and the mayor of Florence weighed in, inviting Carasquilla to visit the statue in person at the Galleria dell’Accademia.
The scandal is unfolding amidst Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s efforts to radically transform the Florida education system by arming teachers, banning books and sanitising curricula in order to fight what he considers “liberal indoctrination” and “trendy ideologies” throughout the state.