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Is the David statue porn? Come see yourself, Italian museum tells Florida school board

A mayor and a museum director in Italy are bashing the resignation of a Florida principal who stepped down after parents complained about Michelangelo's iconic David statue being included in their children's lesson plans, claiming it was pornographic.

In a tweet, Florence Mayor Dario Nardella said he would "personally invite" the American educator to the city, home of the statue, to "give her recognition on behalf of the city," adding that "art is civilization and whoever teaches it deserves respect." Confusing art with pornography is "ridiculous," Nardella wrote.

Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia, where the David resides, invited the principal, school board, parents and student body to view the “purity” of the statue.

“To think that David could be pornographic means truly not understanding the contents of the Bible, not understanding Western culture and not understanding Renaissance art,” Hollberg said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speak during a press conference in front of Michelangelo's "David statue" after their bilateral summit in Florence, Italy, on Jan. 23, 2015. The head of Florence’s Galleria del’Accademia on Sunday March 26, 2023 invited the parents and students of a Florida charter school to visit and see Michelangelo’s “David,” after the school principal was forced to resign following parental complaints that an image of the nude Renaissance masterpiece was shown to a sixth-grade art class.MIC101

Resign or be fired

Hope Carrasquilla, former principal at Tallahassee Classical School, was asked last week to either resign or be terminated from her position at the charter school. She resigned after an ultimatum from the school board's chairman.

One parent complained the material was pornographic, and two other parents said they wanted to be notified of the lesson before it was given to their children, Carrasquilla said. The instruction also included Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” painting and Botticelli's “Birth of Venus.”

“It saddens me that my time here had to end this way,” Carrasquilla told the Tallahassee Democrat, part of the USA TODAY Network.

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A centuries-old debate

The David's nudity has been part of a centuries-old debate about art pushing boundaries and the rules of censorship. In the 1500s, metal fig leaves covered the genitals of statues like David when the Roman Catholic Church considered nudity immodest and obscene.

The dispute in Florida prompted social media users to point out similarities to a 1990s episode of “The Simpsons” where characters debate censorship of the David.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: David statue prompts Florida teacher's resignation; Italians respond