A high school in California has discontinued using an infamous image of a crucifix submerged in urine as part of its curriculum following backlash from parents and threats of lawsuits.
Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, part of the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD), drew the ire of Christian students and parents for using Andres Serrano’s controversial 1987 photograph, “Immersion (Piss Christ),” as part of a required Theory of Knowledge course for its International Baccalaureate Diploma, according to attorneys with the Thomas More Society.
The image, which depicts a crucifix in a jar of Serrano’s urine, sparked a firestorm of public outrage when it debuted in 1987 after being created with grant money from the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts.
Attorneys with the nonprofit Thomas More Society fired off a letter to the SBUSD on May 9 claiming the school had created an illegal hostile environment for Christian students by using the image and demanded it be removed from the Dos Pueblos High School curriculum.
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“The school’s deliberate use of a despicable image in a course required for an International Baccalaureate Diploma shows extremely poor judgment,” Thomas More Society special counsel Paul Jonna said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital. “Even more importantly, it is an act of unconstitutional anti-Catholic, anti-Christian bigotry.”
The attorneys at Thomas More claimed their demand letter was at first met with a “noncommittal response” from the district’s legal counsel, noting a May 22 response letter from them did not verify that the image would be permanently removed from the course.
Parents upset at the inclusion of “Piss Christ” in the curriculum showed up at the public comment portion of a SBUSD school board meeting on May 23, and those who challenged the principal and threatened a lawsuit were met with applause, according to a video.
READ THE DEMAND LETTER:
The next day, a follow-up letter from the school’s attorney to the Thomas More Society noted that “we disagree that use of the image is illegal under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment or otherwise.”
“However, the District recognizes that use of the image invokes hurtful responses among many in the community. Because the course curriculum can adequately be covered by discussion and through utilization of other slides, the image will not be included in the future,” the letter said.
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“The image was used on a slide to discuss the topic of ‘what is art’ that took place in a college-level IB Theory of Knowledge class,” the SBUSD told Fox News Digital. “When a student, who was not enrolled in the class but heard the piece was discussed, objected, the school administrators met with the student and family to discuss their concerns.”
Thomas More Society special counsel Jeffrey Trissell told Fox News Digital in a statement that “repeated requests for clarification finally resulted in a concession that the offending photograph would no longer be used in the Dos Pueblos High School course.”
John Hayward, a student at Dos Pueblos High School who was involved with the complaint, described the school’s decision as “a small, yet significant, victory for our Lord” in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.
“Having this sacrilege taken down from a school setting means a lot to all those who helped call for its removal in a time when hate toward the Catholic faith is widespread,” Hayward said.
“Prior to contacting the Thomas More Society, it was a merely symbolic movement,” he added. “Until we had the weight of a legal letter, our concerns would have been, and indeed were, brushed off by administrators who proudly defended their blasphemous curriculum as some sort of ‘human right.'”
Source: Fox News