‘Covering the mural was a misstep’: principal says mural will stay in Alberta school

A painting on the wall of Onoway Junior-Senior High School depicting two young men kissing was covered up, then uncovered. Jan. 30, 2015. Kendra Slugoski, Global News

EDMONTON — In a letter sent home to parents of Onoway students Monday, the principal said covering a painting of two young men kissing was “a misstep” and said it will remain uncovered, on the school wall until there’s more consultation.

James Trodden, the principal of Onoway Junior-Senior High School, sent the letter home several weeks after the mural was painted by a student. A copy of the letter has been shared on a Facebook group in support of the art.

READ MORE: ‘I felt kind of betrayed:’ Alberta student’s school mural covered up 

“In retrospect, covering the mural was a misstep – this evolved into a debate about public displays of affection in schools, sexual orientation and gender identity and art and censorship,” wrote Trodden in the Feb. 2 letter.

“Regrettably, there has been some characterization of our school and larger community as being intolerant, discriminatory and behind the times. This is both unfair and uncharacteristic of Onoway Junior/Senior High School, its staff and its student population.

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“School administration has reached out to division leadership, provincial organizations and leaders in the area of Sexual Orienation and Gender Identity to guide our path forward,” explained Trodden.

“As these discussions proceed, the mural will remain until a clear direction is established about how the school community and Northern Gateway Public Schools will respond to the key questions outlined.”

You can read the letter in its entirety below.

The artist, Kaela Wilton, said the painting was up for about a week before it was covered by a board, which was later taken down.

WATCH: Raw video of Grade 11 student Kaela Wilton discussing her mural 

“Gay rights is something I feel strongly about,” said the 16-year-old student. “I just want the gay kids and maybe people in the closet to feel comfortable in our school, and it’s OK to come out and to be who you are.”

The mural was approved by school officials. Last week, Trodden said it was covered by the board for about half a day. Now, it will stay up until direction is given by the school community and Northern Gateway Public Schools.

Letter sent to parents of Onoway Jr-Sr High School students from principal on Feb. 2, 2015. CREDIT: In Defense of the Onoway High School Mural Facebook group

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