East High School Principal Kay Peterson has reversed his decision to ban from the school cafeteria hallway a student mural that criticizes censorship, officials said.
The mural includes depiction of the rap group 2 Live Crew and the phrase "Censorship Is un-American."It will be displayed but with a disclaimer that it represents the views of students but not necessarily those of school officials, said Cary Stevens Jones, director of Very Special Arts, which sponsored the artist-in-residence who helped paint the piece, which is one of a series of four murals.
"He had a change of mind," said the artist-in-residence, Wayne Geary. "As far as I know, the principal has agreed to hang the picture in the original location."
Peterson had said he did not want to hang the picture near the cafeteria entrance because the inclusion of 2 Live Crew "promotes obscenity," according to Geary.
Instead, he wanted a fifth mural painted and the offending mural put in a classroom, Geary said.
The unfinished painting, being produced by about 30 handicapped students from the school's special-education classes, is a collage of images from East High. In one section of the mural is a portrait of 2 Live Crew, the target of recent anti-obscenity groups for its album "As Nasty As They Wanna Be." Above it is the phrase "2 Live Crew Taking the Rap."
Next to the portrait is a cartoon of a man with his hand over his mouth with the caption "Censorship is Un-American."
Peterson and Salt Lake City School District officials met Monday to discuss the legal ramifications if Peterson were to direct the political content of student expression, said Salt Lake City School District Superintendent John Bennion.
Geary and Jones were excluded from the meeting and were notified of Peterson's decision later that night.
According to the artists, the four murals will include a disclaimer that will read, "These murals represent the students' opinions but not necessarily the opinion of the East High School administration, the community council or the Salt Lake City School District."
Jones said the disclaimer will be with all four murals "so it won't call attention to the one that caused the controversy."
"He called it a `compromise suggestion,' and we are pleased with that suggestion," Jones said.
Calls to Peterson's office were referred to the school district office. Flora Weggelund, director of elementary education for the district, said the district would release an official comment in a couple of days.