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Illustration by Timothy Chiu

Florida Under DeSantis: Florida Principal Resigns After Showing Students Michelangelo’s David

A principal was forced to resign in Florida after a sixth-grade class was shown the statue of David. The Gazelle reports on how this came to be and the future of education in the state.

In Tallahassee, Florida, a principal was forced to resign last month after a parent complained that their sixth-graders were exposed to pornography, citing Michelangelo’s statue of David presented in a Renaissance art class as evidence.
Principal Hope Carrasquilla of Tallahassee Classical School said she was given an ultimatum by the school board to either resign or be fired. Albeit not given the cause, she believed it was related to the complaints.
Iconic in Western art history, David depicts the biblical hero who kills the giant Goliath. The class also discussed Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" and Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," both of which include nudity. Besides the parent who complained, two others claimed that they wished to know about the class before the class was taught.
Barney Bishop III, chair of the school’s board, said that in previous years the school sent an advance notice to parents about showing David in class but did not continue this year, which he deemed a grave mistake. “Parental rights are supreme, and that means protecting the interests of all parents, whether it’s one, 10, 20 or 50”, Bishop told Tallahassee Democrat.
“Parents are entitled to know anytime their child is being taught a controversial topic and picture… Parents are the ones who are going to drive the education system here in Florida. The governor said that, and we’re with the governor”, said Bishop in an interview with Slate. He further added that showing David was not the only problem with the principal but rather one of many, claimed that the central issue is using the term “nonpornography” and “Don’t tell your parents” in the classroom by one of the teachers, and refuses to disclose the actual reason for pressing Principal Carrasquilla’s resignation.
In the Slate interview, Bishop refers to the DeSantis law that has made international headlines since the start of the year. In the past month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration signed the controversial “Parental Rights in Education Act,” which, dubbed by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, bans public school teachers from instructing students on topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity. Initially banning such discussions in kindergarten through grade three or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” the bill has the potential to be expanded to the final year of high school, with offending teachers facing the penalty of suspension or losing their teaching licenses. Put forth by the state Department of Education and facing the Board of Education vote on its proposed rule in April, the law does not need legislative approval to come into force. In addition, both the board and the department of education are headed by appointees of DeSantis, meaning the decision is unlikely to change.
Having privately declared his ambition for the 2024 presidential run, DeSantis has passed numerous laws targeting what he sees as the liberal democratic “woke,” including the Individual Freedom Act, commonly known as the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act which restricted race-based conversations in schools and businesses; a law banning abortion after 15 weeks; and new congressional maps that eradicated two African American voting districts. On his re-election celebration as the governor of Florida, he claimed “Florida is where woke goes to die!”
In response, students in colleges in Florida have organized walkouts and pledges, with some holding up signs across universities that advocate for trans and LGBTQ+ rights, entreating the DeSantis administration to “restore diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in colleges and universities.”
Galleria dell’Accademia, which holds Michelangelo’s David, furthermore, has invited the board of a Florida Christian charter school to visit after Carrasquilla’s resignation amassed international attention. Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Florence museum, told Associated Press that “To think that David could be pornographic means truly not understanding the contents of the Bible, not understanding western culture and not understanding Renaissance art.”
Tallahassee Democrat, at last, reported on the first board meeting of Tallahassee Calsscial School on March 27 after news of Carrasquilla’s resignation travelled the globe, with most speakers — parents and teachers were both invited to the meeting — criticizing the board and calling for Bishop’s resignation during public comment, who reiterated his point of parents’ supreme rights. "What is wrong with notifying parents in advance that an upcoming topic might be seen as somewhat controversial, leaving it to the parent to decide not whether we teach it, but rather that their child is present during that lesson?" asked one of the teachers.
Zhiyu Lindy Luo is Senior News Editor. Email her at
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