Students at Westminster (Md.) High School are planning to take a stand after school administrators in Carroll County demanded that teachers take down posters promoting diversity from classrooms, deeming them “political” and “anti-Trump.”
According to the Carroll County Times, the incident unfolded last Thursday when the posters were removed because of the allegedly negative view of President Donald Trump, Carroll County Public Schools spokesperson Carey Gaddis said.
The posters were those from the famous “We the People” campaign by artist Shepard Fairey, which depicts Latina and African-American women, as well as women wearing Muslim hijabs, using the same red-white-and-blue scheme of the “Hope” election posters featuring Barack Obama. Fairey also designed the Obama posters.
When teachers were originally told by school administrators to remove the posters, the teachers responded that the posters spoke to diversity and, thus, they were allowed to put them back up, according to the report. However, Gaddis told the newspaper that after further research into the posters and what they stood for, school system officials deemed them anti-Trump. Administrators asked teachers to once again take down the posters because teachers are not permitted to take a political stand in the classroom.
“We allow political posters if it’s part of the curriculum,” Gaddis said, adding that both sides would have to be represented in such a scenario.
“Teachers are obviously to remain neutral,” Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Stephen Johnson said.
The Times noted that Johnson declined to comment on the specific incident itself, but emphasized that while staff can discuss politics, they can’t try to sway students.
Fairey told the Huffington Post that the “We the People” campaign is about the fact that “equality, respect and religious freedom are unassailable American values and nonpartisan.”
“I find it very disturbing that someone could find those ideas specifically and, by extension, inclusion in general, to be partisan or problematic,” he added.
Many students also found the removal of the posters disturbing.
Sarah Wack, a 2012 graduate of the school, started an online fundraiser to print free T-shirts displaying the images for students to wear. Once the shirt order is finalized, the balance will be donated to the Amplifier Foundation, which is a nonprofit that put out the posters.
As of Tuesday, the Huffington Post notes, Wack’s fundraiser had raked in more than $5,000. Students are planning to wear the shirts March 1, which school spokesperson Gaddis said they will be allowed to do.
“I’m wearing the shirt to school to stand by those affected by the posters being taken down,” Delaney McKelvie, a high school senior, told the Huffington Post. “I also hope to get the message across that promoting diversity should be commonplace.”
Madi Macera, a junior at the school, told the news site that she knows two students, one who is black and one who is Muslim, who were “upset and disturbed at the sight of teachers having to remove posters containing images of women similar to them from their walls.”
“I want people to understand that these are American people,” Macera, who is helping to organize the demonstration at school, said. “They are a staple of who America is as a whole.”