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Woodland Park High School paints over student mural of two women kissing


WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) — A controversial mural at Woodland Park High School depicting two women kissing was up for two weeks before the school painted over it.

The artist is a recent Woodland Park High School graduate and member of the LGBT community. People are split on the school’s decision to erase the show of support.

“I think it’s terrible and disgusting,” said a friend of the artist, Alaska Woods. “I think our school would like to act like they support it to the face of LGBT people, but as soon as they have to stick their neck out for anything, they won’t.”

Woods is also a 2021 Woodland Park High School graduate and member of the LGBT community. Woods says it’s common for seniors in a certain art course to paint murals in the hallway near the art wing. But Woods says it’s not normal for the murals to last only weeks.

"A lot of murals stay up for years," said Woods.

Interim Superintendent Linda Murray issued a statement in response to the mural’s controversial creation and eradication.

“Woodland Park School District is aware of the existing issue related to a Senior artist’s mural that has generated discussion in the community.   The District does not endorse any side of a social issue and makes every effort to remain neutral.

Traditionally, senior students in a course called College Bound Artists have been given the opportunity to paint a mural on one of the walls located near the Art wing of the school.  Procedures exist for the painting and approval of these murals.  Unfortunately, several murals were painted this year without following these policies.

We have reviewed and updated our procedures for future classes, and taken appropriate steps to ensure that our murals meet district standards. 

While we support our students in their individual journeys, we do not serve as a platform.”

Linda Murray, Interim Superintendent for Woodland Park School District 12

Inside Out Youth Services, a local advocacy group, also gave a statement to KRDO Newschannel 13.

“Affirming identities is upstream prevention, and it’s the right way for adults to support young people, particularly when it comes to young people expressing themselves through art. When you erase someone’s identity from a piece of art, you are telling them their identity doesn’t matter. Certainly, as public institutions, can’t we all agree we want students to know they matter? To know they belong and they are welcomed? The Supreme Court of the United States determined in 2015 that all people — including and specifically LGBTQ+ people — have the right to love who they love and be married to who they love. There is no reason to censor that. If schools want to know how to do better for their young people, they can call us. In 2020, we offered LGBTQ+ 101 and trusted adults training to 2,460 adults.”

Jessie Pocock, Inside Out Youth Services Executive Director

Woods says that in a recent meeting with the artist and school administrator, the school decided it will no longer allow students to paint murals going forward. Instead, senior art students will use canvases as their medium.

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Lauren Barnas

Lauren is an anchor and MMJ for KRDO and 13 Investigates. Learn more about Lauren here.

Comments

21 Comments

  1. What does lgbtq have to do with education? Schools shouldn’t be indoctrination of our youths morals or sexual choices or teaching these in anyway. Get sex out of our schools and leave it to the parents.

    1. This is not about the “indoctrination of our youths morals or sexual choices”, as you put it. I would like to pose you a question, did you recieve sex ed in school? How about that golden rule, “treat everyone as you want to be treated”? I am going to assume yes, given these are basic things that are taught in public schools as soon as kindergarten. Your comment is a wonderful display of your ignorance, or to put it bluntly, your homophobia. You’re seemingly ok with schools teaching students about morals and sexual choices if they are presented under the guise of heterosexuality. Teaching gay students about heterosexuality, whether intentionally or by representation, isn’t making these students straight- why should lgbt education effect straight students any differently.
      To your other point- “leave it to the parents”- are students without parental figures supposed to go into life flying blindly? Or maybe you recommend they look it up for themselves, because as any school will tell you, the internet is the most reliable source for information.
      My condescending sarcasm aside, you not only missed the point of the issue at hand but you also displayed your honestly impressive level of ignorance.

  2. This is disheartening and disappointing. As an LGBTQ+ 2021 graduate of WPHS, one of the things I ached for in my school experience was some sign that I was accepted and ok. Some indication that I was not alone and that I was supported. I was excited when I watched that mural make progress; it was art that helped me feel a little safer in my last weeks at WPHS.
    Art is supposed to represent us. Art i supposed to reflect who we are.
    I’m sorry, but the statement Linda Murray issued was an absolute line. Staying neutral on a topic of representation and acceptance shows that she simply doesn’t care. And the administration of WPHS should have had a better response- you don’t end a decades long tradition because ONE student put up a mural you disagree with.
    If a school is for children, and if you support our journeys, then don’t refer to our identities as politics, don’t remain neutral when something we pour our hearts into is destroyed, and don’t stand by and idly watch as adults berate students for expression.
    To administration and the district: we will remember this. Students currently attending will remember this. We won’t forget the way this was treated and handled. We were told that WPHS was a safe space, and this is what it has come to. Taking down a mural because of personal beliefs.
    I’m disappointed.

    1. Sorry for your isolation there. The real world is much more accepting – even celebratory – regarding your identity.

  3. I wonder if the lgbtqp would complain if it was a mural of Epstein making out with a little girl? No… That’s pretty much what they stand for too.

  4. Look at the bigots coming out of the woodwork. Thanks Woodland Park, show the world how uneducated you are.

  5. Good Job woodland park… I am tired of being told what I have to like and put up with, it seems the minority who complain get their way. At least you had the courage to do something about it. Thank you for standing up for something.

  6. I agree with this decision. The district stated that the artists did not follow protocol.
    Do not encourage rule-breakers.
    This does not belong in a school where influence is rampant. Stick to education.
    Go paint your own walls at your house.

  7. Just to simplify things….
    If it was a mural of anything religious, people would demand it be painted over.
    I would oppose it for anyone kissing. That does not belong in a school. School should be a place for learning and not politics. Sex should stay out of school also. I don’t think they should teach sex education. Parents need to step up and talk with their kids.

  8. This is a great job of bad reporting.
    My question about that whole thing is did the school district also paint over the other murals that were not in compliance with the rules?
    If so, why did you NOT say that in the story? If the district ONLY painted over the one mural, then you really buried the story and didn’t follow it to its conclusion.
    Bad, bad reporting.

    1. Reading is fun.
      “Woods says that in a recent meeting with the artist and school administrator, the school decided it will no longer allow students to paint murals going forward”
      All were removed and none will be allowed in the future.

  9. Once you start censoring one idea, then all ideas need to be censored. No one can decide what is “right” or “wrong”. If religion is not appropriate then all other controversial topics aren’t, either. Schools have dug their own politically correct grave.

  10. The majority of students who are growing up sexually normal are the victims of this staging by a minority who are not normal but trying to portray their lifestyle as being normal. They are trying to trick the minds of normal students into believing that their abnormal lifestyle is not only normal but desirable.

  11. Is it supposed to be two women or two girls kissing? It doesn’t really matter. I am a 60-yr-old heterosexual, and have never held issue with LGBTQ. I think it’s great these kids are not afraid to express themselves, and I don’t think they’re trying to victimize anybody. With that said, I don’t think a high school is the right venue. I wouldn’t want to see the mural there any more than I would a mural of a man & woman kissing on a high school wall. I would have no issue seeing the mural @ an art museum or show, arts & crafts fair, someone’s home, or in the right business environment. I think it’s a nice piece of art that could be marketed. I have two family members (niece/nephew) who are lesbian/gay and very successful in life. They have class, are educated, have great jobs, wonderful spouses, and are very loved and respected by everybody who knows them, LGBTQ and straight. Nobody feels victimized by them. I hope the LGBTQ kids in Woodland Park are prpud of who they are, stand tall, and stay focused on the positive. Do not be intimidated or shamed by hate mongers including the over-zealous religious freaks populating Woodland Park. They are the worst. They are always quick to judge others, have skeletons in their closets, and do not know how to do the right thing most of the time. Kids, please stay focused on the positive (as hard as it can be sometimes), do the right thing, and you will go far in life.

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