GRANT, Mich. — A mural at Grant Middle School was subject to debate at Monday night's school board meeting, with some parents opposed to its use of LGBTQ imagery and other content.
"I put my art up there to make people feel welcome," says Evelyn Gonzales, a Grant High School student who painted the mural.
The mural is inside the middle school's health center.
Some of the things the parents addressed were a transgender flag on a person's t-shirt, a symbol which Gonzales says comes from a video game and another symbol she says is a Hispanic sign of protection.
"I feel like she did a really good job finding excuses to defend the things she put on," says Katelyn Thompson. "None of us are that stupid."
Parents allege the video game character is a depiction of Satan, and that the protection symbol is demonic, with several using the word witchcraft to describe it.
"That's not what I'm a part of," says Gonzales. "That's not what I'm trying to put out there."
As for the transgender flag, one parent implied it's a sickness.
"When adults pretend things that are like real life, it's a mental illness," says Danielle Beight. "We need counselors, we need medication that's going to help bipolar disorder, fix their brains."
With another saying it is discriminatory against Christian beliefs.
"We and our administration should embrace that and get all of this hate material out of our schools, because it is hate material," says Nate Thompson.
Not everyone was opposed to the mural.
One parent was appalled by some of the words used by others in the crowd.
"I am a conservative, right-wing, gun-loving American," says Tracy Hargreaves. "But I've never seen more bigoted people in my life."
She wants to see more acceptance in her community.
"We have an array of people in this little town," says Hargreaves. "And I'll be the first one to support our Christian families. But we're not the only ones here."
A student and friend of the artist, who described themselves as queer, says they were bullied throughout middle school and into high school.
They say the mural makes them feel included.
"Maybe you should be more concerned with your children's behaviors, instead of what art is on the wall," says Liam Higgins.
While some parents called for the mural to be removed or altered, Grant Public Schools handbook includes a nondiscriminatory policy, saying in part, "any form of discrimination or harassment can be devastating to an individuals academic progress, social relationship and/or personal sense of self-worth."
No decision was made on the future of the mural at Monday's meeting.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.