An Arizona School Removed An ‘Offensive’ Poster After Some Kids Complained

An Arizona school removed a poster after some students complained that it was offensive, raising questions about free speech and censorship in public schools.

As ABC News reports, school officials at Desert Ridge High School in Mesa were alerted to the poster, which had been found hanging in the school’s library, after at least two students, at least one of them female, took offense.

The poster appears to be something of a commentary on the school’s dress code. The first panel is a cartoon drawing of females dressed and posed seductively, with the caption, “So you think you come to school looking pretty cute.” The narrative then seems to suggest that boys, distracted by attractive girls at the school, will get poor grades, be unemployed, and supported by those same females who distracted him in the first place.

At least, that’s how senior Alissa Adams took it.

“I don’t get offended easily, but this definitely crossed the line for me.”

Alissa took a pen and added her own commentary to the poster, “So it’s the girls fault, right? #feminism.”

For what it’s worth, nothing in Desert Ridge High School’s dress code seems much different than that of any other public high school in the country.

“The Board will not interfere with the right of students and their parents to make decisions regarding their appearance except when their choices affect the educational program of the schools or the health and safety of others.”

The dress code makes no mention of different rules for boys or girls, nor does it mention anything about “distracting” dress.

Alissa complained to the school librarian, who refused to take the poster down, saying that no one else had been offended by it. Some time later, the school’s principal got wind of the poster, after another student complained, and the principal told the librarian to remove it.


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The librarian, who has been forbidden by the school district from speaking to the media about the poster, declined to say who created the poster, according to school officials. The librarian would only say that she found it “lying around” and decided to put it up.

In a statement, school spokeswoman Irene Mahoney Paige said that the librarian showed “poor judgment” in hanging the poster.

“Hanging of the poster was inappropriate and very poor judgment on behalf of the librarian. It is not reflective of the spirit and community of Desert Ridge High School or the Gilbert Public Schools District.”

Even though the “offensive” poster has been removed, Alissa is still upset about it.

“They shouldn’t have compared boys to animals and girls as meat. They could’ve done it better.”

When it comes to art, school officials sometimes walk a fine line when it comes to allowing an open exchange of ideas, while still attempting to maintain order and propriety within the walls of their schools. And sometimes they err on the side of caution when it comes to censorship.

This was made particularly evident in the case of a Denver high school student whose art project, meant to bring attention to the problem of police brutality, ran afoul of the Denver Police Department. As reported by the Inquisitr, after the Denver Police Department took offense to the student’s work, the student felt compelled to take it down.

Do you think schools should censor artwork that is offensive to other students, or to school officials, parents, or the community?

[Image via Shutterstock/northallertonman]