Hillsdale College, a small Christian liberal arts college in southern Michigan, severed ties with Tallahassee Classical School, a Florida charter school, after a parent complained about their sixth grader’s exposure to pornography during a lesson on Renaissance art that included a depiction of Michelangelo’s sculpture David. The Tallahassee Classical School and Hillsdale College, with whom they have worked together on K-12 education, have decided to dissolve their partnership. Permission to utilize the Hillsdale classical education curriculum was “revoked and will expire at the end of the school year,” as stated by a spokesman from Hillsdale.
Hope Carrasquilla, the principal of Tallahassee Classical School, resigned last week after being given an ultimatum by the head of the school board. One parent, according to Carrasquilla, complained that their child was exposed to sexual content in the art curriculum, while two others requested early warning about any sessions they deemed inappropriate for their children. The “Birth of Venus” by Botticelli and the “Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo were shown as part of the talk.
Tallahassee Classical School did not respond after being asked to give their side of the story. However, on Sunday, the resulting publicity earned an invitation for parents and students from Tallahassee Classical School to visit the Florence museum housing the David statue in person. After Carrasquilla resigned, Florence’s mayor tweeted an invitation to Carrasquilla to honor her personally.
There have always been people on both sides of the debate about whether or not the statue of David should be in Jerusalem. Metal fig leaves were put over the genitalia of statues like David because the Roman Catholic Church ruled nudity immodest and obscene in the 1500s. Even though Michelangelo’s “David” and other works of art that represent the human form are included in the curriculum at Hillsdale College, the controversy involving Tallahassee Classical School and its licensor adds to the ongoing conversation about what is appropriate to expose students to in the classroom.