A Maryland public school demanded that teachers remove pro-diversity posters from classrooms because they were deemed too political and anti-President Donald Trump.
Teachers at Westminster High School had hung up “We the People” posters, designed by artist Shepard Fairey, depicting Muslim, Latina and African-American women. The red, white and blue posters echo the “Hope” poster Fairey designed of Barack Obama in 2008, and this year’s art appeared as full-page ads around the inauguration in the Washington Post.
Teachers were “asked to take them down because they were being perceived as anti-Trump by the administration,” Carroll County Public Schools spokeswoman Carey Gaddis told the Huffington Post. At least one staff member at the school had complained about the posters.
They were initially removed after being deemed political, but teachers argued the posters were up in support of diversity. They were allowed to be re-hung, before the school reversed course and determined the posters were inflammatory because of the artist’s intention in designing them.
“We thought it was the right time to make a campaign that’s about diversity and inclusion, about people seeing the common bonds we have, and our connections as human beings,” Fariey told PBS before the inauguration. “It’s hard to encapsulate the complexity of what we’re facing, going into this Trump presidency, in three images. But we chose three groups that are vulnerable.”
Carroll County Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Steven Johnson told the Huffington Post that the posters were “symbolic” of anti-Trump sentiment in the same way the Confederate flag represented slavery.
“The Confederate flag in and of itself has no image of slavery or hatred or oppression, but it’s symbolic of that,” Johnson said. “These posters have absolutely no mention of Trump or any other political issue ― it’s the symbolism of what they were representing. They were carried in these protests.”
The Fairey posters, which were also available as free downloads from the Amplifier Foundation, were carried by some who participated in women’s marches around the world the day after Trump’s inauguration.
“Teachers are obviously to remain neutral,” Johnson told the Carroll County Times. Teachers are prohibited from wearing any campaign paraphernalia associated with any campaign or supporting a particular candidate in the classroom.
The school would not comment on whether any staff members were being disciplined in relation to displaying the posters.