Tourists are flocking to see the statue of David in Florence after a school principal was forced to resign in the US over complaints students were exposed to pornography when the artwork was used in a lesson.
Visitors have flocked to see Michelangelo’s David sculpture in Florence following an uproar over a Florida school’s decision to force the resignation of its principal over complaints about a lesson featuring the statue.
Tourists, many of them Americans, posed for selfies in front of the giant marble statue, which features the biblical David, naked with a sling over his shoulder and a rock in his hand, ready for battle with Goliath.
“It’s part of history,” said Isabele Joles from Ohio. “I don’t understand how you can say it’s porn.”
Brian Stapley, a tourist from Seattle Washington, said he felt sorry for the children at the school.
“It’s one of the most incredible parts of our history,” he said. “I feel incredibly sorry for the children that don’t get to see it.”
Last week, the board of the Tallahassee Classical School pressured Principal Hope Carrasquilla to resign after an image of David was shown to a sixth-grade art class.
Tallahassee Classical is a charter school. While it is taxpayer-funded and tuition-free, it operates almost entirely independently of the local school district and is sought out by parents seeking an alternative to the public school curriculum.
The school also has a policy requiring parents to be notified in advance about “controversial” topics being taught.
Over the weekend, both Florence’s mayor and the museum director condemned the school’s decision and issued invitations for the ousted principal and the school community to come and see the sculpture for themselves.
“We are talking about the roots of Western culture, and ‘David’ is the height, the height of beauty,” museum director Cecilie Hollberg said on Tuesday.
The controversy wasn't the only a topic of conversation in Florence. On Monday night in Tallahassee, a large crowd showed up for a school board meeting with public comment on the issue of the David statue controversy lasting over an hour, local media reported.
Some parents and teachers criticized the board and even asked chairman Barney Bishop to step aside. “Given the dissatisfaction of all these parents with your leadership, would you be willing to lead us by integrity by resigning?” asked teacher Ben Steigner.
The Florida Department of Education has distanced itself from the controversy and the school’s decision.
“The Statue of David has artistic and historical value. Florida encourages instruction on the classics and classical art, and would not prohibit its use in instruction,” the department said in a statement.
“The matter at the Tallahassee Classical School is between the school and an employee, and is not the effect of state rule or law.”