Florida’s Department of Education (DOE) has confirmed that Michelangelo’s “David” (1501–1504) can indeed be shown in classrooms. The department’s statement follows a viral story last month in which a Tallahassee principal was forced to resign after an art teacher showed Michelangelo’s nude statue to her sixth-grade students. Principal Hope Carrasquilla hadn’t notified parents beforehand, three of whom complained, with one even calling the famous Renaissance sculpture “pornographic.”
“Florida encourages instruction on the classics and classical art, and would not prohibit its use in instruction,” Florida DOE Communications Director Alex Lanfranconi said in a statement shared with Florida’s Voice. “The Statue of David has artistic and historical value.”
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The story made national headlines and proved ever more embarrassing when it came to light that a 1990 Simpsons episode predicted a similar series of events. Since then, Florence’s mayor invited the art teacher to his city in a tweet and the conservative Michigan college that lends the Tallahassee charter schools its “classical” education curriculum ended the partnership and called the “David” news a “parody” and “distraction” from the “actual aims of classical education.”
The DOE did not go so far as to condone the Tallahassee Classical School, a charter institution founded in 2020 after parents “saw all the crap that’s being taught in public schools,” according to its board chair Barney Bishop III.
“The matter at Tallahassee Classical School is between the school and an employee, and is not the effect of state rule or law,” reads the DOE’s statement.
Board Chair Bishop described Carrasquilla’s forced resignation in an interview with Slate but said he could not legally cite the reason for the principal’s ousting. Carrasquilla told the Tallahassee Democrat she believed she was let go over the “David” debacle.
In his interview with Slate (and elsewhere), Bishop has revealed himself as a staunch advocate for “parents’ rights,” a conservative calling cry that has helped galvanize legal restrictions on discussing race, sexual identity, and gender in Florida classrooms.