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A high school student in Grant, Mich., has been accused of promoting witchcraft with some images in an LGBTQ-inclusive mural she created at the school.
There will now be changes to the mural, but the LGBTQ+ imagery will remain, Michigan TV station WZZM reports.
The student artist, Grant High School sophomore Evelyn Gonzales, won a contest to create a mural at the Grant Middle School health center. Her winning design included a boy wearing pink, light blue, and white, the colors of the transgender Pride flag; a girl in the colors of the bisexual flag, pink, royal blue, and purple; and a girl in rainbow colors.
The final mural, however, had some elements that weren't in her design, including a character from the video game Genshin Impact that had the face of a demon and a Hamsa hand (also known as the hand of Fatima), which is used as a symbol of good luck and protection in many cultures. Gonzales said she added these because there was extra space to fill.
Several parents complained about both these features and the LGBTQ+ imagery. They thought the video game character represented Satan and that the Hamsa hand promoted witchcraft.
"That's not what I'm a part of," Gonzales said, according to WZZM. "That's not what I'm trying to put out there." She added, "I put my art up there to make people feel welcome."
Gonzales defended the mural at a Grant Public Schools board meeting October 10. One attendee, Nate Thompson, called it anti-Christian "hate material." Another, Danielle Beight, objected to the transgender symbolism, likening trans identity to bipolar disorder.
"I feel like she did a really good job finding excuses to defend the things she put on," Katelyn Thompson said. "None of us are that stupid.
Some parents who attended were supportive of Gonzales. Tracy Hargreaves, called the critics bigoted. "I am a conservative, right-wing, gun-loving American," she said, according to WZZM. "But I've never seen more bigoted people in my life."
Hargreaves later told Today.com, "The meeting turned into a hate fest. Usually there are 10 people at these meetings; 50 showed up. It wasn't even about the mural. ... People were talking about how we need to pray the gay away." She said Gonzales exited the meeting in tears.
Grant Public Schools released a statement Thursday saying, "At the student artist's request, the mural will be returned to its original form as originally submitted and approved by the Administration." The images of the children will remain, as will some depictions of animals, but the Hamsa hand and the video game character will be removed.