Michigan school board orders LGBTQ-inclusive student mural painted over

Grant Middle School mural

A Michigan school board is requiring a middle school student health center to paint over a student’s LGBTQ-themed mural.

The mural has been on the wall at Grant Middle School in Grant, Michigan, since last year, when it was painted by a high school student who had won an art competition. Grant, which has a population of fewer than 1,000 people, is located 30 milesåç north of Grand Rapids.

Some parents had said at a school board meeting that they objected to the mural’s characters wearing bisexual pride, trans pride and rainbow pride colors.

At the meeting in October 2022, parents took issue with the colors and accused the student who painted the mural of promoting witchcraft by including a demon-like video game character and a Hamsa hand, a Middle Eastern symbol of protection found in Judaism and Islam and in other cultures, NBC’s TODAY.com reported at the time.

While one parent called the mural “hate material,” parent Tracey Hargreaves said during the meeting: “I am a conservative, right-wing, gun-loving American, and I’ve never seen more bigoted people in my life.”

Removal of the mural is a stipulation of a new agreement with Family Health Care, which previously operated Grant Middle School’s health center, according to reporting by NBC News.

The school board had voted in June to terminate its contract with the group, but has approved a new contract provided the mural is removed.

Family Health Care said in a statement:

During contract negotiations, it was clear the mural was important to the Board of Education. The student painted the mural to highlight inclusivity and diversity, values that are important to Family Health Care. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of everything we do at Family Health Care. As required by law, we are accepting of all students regardless of age, race, color, national origin, disability, religion, or sex, including sexual orientation or gender identity. While it is disappointing that the mural must be removed by the end of October, it’s a compromise we reluctantly were willing to accept to ensure the children of the Grant community continue to have access to medical and behavioral health care.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.