Several parents expressed their outrage at a school board meeting earlier this month over a student mural at a Michigan middle school that included colors representing the LGBTQ community and what they claimed were secret symbols of “witchcraft.”
High school sophomore Evelyn Gonzales won a contest to “brighten up” the health center at Grant Middle School in the town of Grant by painting the mural on an interior wall. Gonzales said she was dumbfounded and hurt by the parents’ remarks.
“I put my art up there to make people feel welcome,” Gonzales said in footage from the meeting that was shown on Grand Rapids news station WZZM-Channel 13 TV.
As for Satanism or witchcraft, “that’s not what I’m a part of,” Gonzales said. “That’s not what I’m trying to put out there.”
One critic called the brightly colored mural “hate material.”
The mural, shown above, features a smiling, diverse group of kids as well as hearts, a rabbit and bear wearing first aid hats, a peace sign, hands, a rainbow decoration on one student’s overalls and a message that said: “Stay healthy.”
Parents complained about the rainbow and blasted the colors of two students’ clothing which they claimed represented the transgender and bisexual Pride flags.
Parents were also incensed that the painting included a face inspired by the popular video game Genshin Impact, and a “Hamsa hand,” also known as the Hand of Fatima or Hand of Mary. The design, which a number of parents said was a sign of witchcraft, has been a symbol for good luck or protection for centuries in many cultures.
Not all of the adults at the meeting took issue with the artwork.
“I am a conservative, right-wing, gun-loving American, and I’ve never seen more bigoted people in my life,” Tracy Hargreaves, who has two children in the Grant public school system, said at the meeting.
Hargreaves later told Today.com that the meeting turned into a vicious “hate fest.”
Usually 10 people appear at the board meetings, but 50 showed up that night, she noted.
“It wasn’t even about the mural,” Hargreaves added. “People were talking about how we need to pray the gay away.”