WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) –A Carroll County high school is in the midst of a controversy which started after administrators asked teachers to take down posters displayed in their classrooms.
The issue over the posters comes at a time when some students tell WJZ’s Rick Ritter they don’t feel accepted inside the school, and removing the posters only raises more questions.
You can feel it in the halls of Westminster High School.
“I can feel the tension between the different people and their different views,” said Westminster High School senior Hamial Waince.
Many students are searching for clear answers.
“It’s like, ‘What’s going on? Why is this happening?,'” said Westminster HS senior Rubie Avery.
This is happening after posters were put up inside classrooms, but then ordered to be taken down.
The “We the People” posters depicted Latina, Muslim and African-American women in the same red, white and blue style of the “Hope” election posters for Barack Obama.
Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the Hope posters and the diversity posters, told CNN in January that those three groups could be “the most feeling that their needs would be neglected in a Trump administration.”
But the non-profit that helped create the posters widely, The Amplifier Foundation, calls its We the People campaign “a nonpartisan campaign dedicated to igniting a national dialogue about American identity and values through public art and story sharing.”
“When I see those posters, it makes me feel very loved and accepted by everyone,” said Avery.
The posters were first put up by some teachers as part of an effort to promote diversity. But some complained, saying they were perceived as anti-Trump.
“After some reflection and some discussion, the posters came down until we can further examine the issue,” said Stephen Guthrie, superintendent of Carroll County Public Schools. “We don’t really have any guidelines in Carroll County in terms of what can be displayed, other than the classroom can’t be a forum for politics.”
Students tell WJZ being political was not the intent.
“That wasn’t the intent at all, to be political or partisan in any way,” said junior Madi Macera.
“There’s nothing partisan about it,” said Westminster junior Ryan Novotny. “It’s not being anti-Trump. Some students are very upset about this and I believe they have every right to be.”
The decision to take the posters down left many outraged and some students of color questioning the type of message that sends, with some saying that with the current climate nationwide, the posters are needed now more than ever.
“It was very empowering to me as a colored woman, in a county that is 93 percent white people,” said Avery.
“I want to see more diversity in the schools and not have students feel they’re not welcomed,” said Hamial.
“[Reporter: Is it more important now more than ever for Carroll County schools to promote diversity?] “Yes, it is, and we’re absolutely going to do that and are committed to doing that,” said superintendent Guthrie. “We are going to take this opportunity to talk about diversity and more diversify our work force.”
The start of what students hope is a movement to make sure everyone feels accepted.
“This county has so much more to offer, maybe then what a lot of people have in mind for our county,” said Macera.
Some students are putting the images on these posters on t-shirts and plan to wear them to school next week.
Officials say a school board meeting has been scheduled to discuss the posters.