Florida school principal fired for showing students Michelangelo’s ‘pornographic’ David sculpture

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A school principal in Tallahassee, Florida, has been fired following parental complaints about a lesson on Michelangelo’s marble masterpiece David (1501-04), which was deemed “pornographic” by one aggrieved parent.

The now-former principal, Hope Carrasquilla, informed the Huffington Post that, due to a “series of miscommunications”, a customary letter informing parents of students at Tallahassee Classical School about this feature of the sixth-grade art history curriculum was not sent out, further contributing to parents’ outrage. One parent felt “point-blank upset”, Carrasquilla told HuffPost, and “felt her child should not be viewing” the iconic 16th-century exemplar of Renaissance sculpture, which depicts a figure from the Old Testament’s Book of Samuel.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Tallahassee Classical School, a charter school in Florida’s state capital, has now lost three principals since it opened in 2020. Carasquilla had worked there for less than a year. The school’s “classical education curriculum model” is an increasingly popular pedagogical model in Florida that advocates a return to the foundational tenets of Western civilisation. The school is affiliated with Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian institution that has sought to “fight leftist academics” by expanding into charter school fundraising and implementation.

“Once in a while you get a parent who gets upset about Renaissance art,” Carrasquilla said.

The move to oust Carrasquilla rides a cresting wave of conservative educational legislation in Florida and across the US. Florida governor Ron DeSantis, dubbed the “Education Governor” due to his efforts to transform the state’s school system, has targeted high school advanced placement studies in African American history as a form of “woke indoctrination”, signed a bill to ban transgender athletes from girl’s public school teams, banned more than 40% of math textbooks that publishers submit for review and passed the Parental Rights in Education Act, which prohibits any conversation about sexuality and gender in kindergarten and the first three grades of elementary school.

DeSantis also passed a bill that allows teachers to be armed at school and instituted the “Stop WOKE Act“, aimed at preventing “discrimination in the workplace and public schools”. His targeting of tenure, affirmative action and diversity, equity and inclusion measures at the state’s public universities reflects a nationwide Republican project to regulate and politicise education.

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