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.