Charlotte de Vreeze-Nauta is of the impression society is increasingly lacking common sense, referring to nude art being treated as pornography at schools.

I’m upset! This is nothing new because it’s actually the theme of most of my articles here on RTL Today’s “Your Voice”. But we have yet again reached a low point in the world.

It may have happened on the other side of the ocean, and therefore one may think that it does not affect us directly, but I think it does. I think it is a sign of the times. I think we are increasingly losing perspective and allowing ourselves to be guided by fear. What has happened to our common sense?

Before I get into that, let me briefly address the most recent event that was my proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Last week the principal of the Tallahassee Classical School (Florida, USA) was forced to resign because she, as part of the art curriculum on the Renaissance, showed her 6th grade students images of works of art, including Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and his ‘Creation of Adam’.

Three parents were shocked and complained – one of them claiming that the principal had confronted their child with pornography – and it ended in the dismissal of the principal.

For me personally, this is worrisome for different reasons: the fact that some people find it unacceptable to show a penis on a statue and in a painting to 11- and 12-year olds; the fact that it only takes three parents to influence the decision of a school; and the fact that the school has now decided to pass a new rule that requires parental notification two weeks in advance of any curriculum that is taught that is ‘potentially controversial’. And that all this could lead to someone being forced to resign or be fired over it. These facts alone seriously outrage me.

But the way I see it, there are much bigger problems at the heart of this and at many other nasty things that are happening in the world today. And what stands out to me the most is my impression that we are increasingly lacking common sense.

Nude art is pornography?

How hurtful or wrong is it really to show 11- and 12-year-olds pictures of statues and paintings with nude people on them? Is there something wrong with the human body in its naked form? Were we supposed to have been born with clothes on? Tiny error of nature? It doesn’t fit very well in this era of fighting ‘body-shaming’. It’s 2023, for god’s sake.

One might even argue that it is rather naïve and even hurtful to want to ‘protect’ young teenagers from being confronted with nudity. Mind you, they are at an age that puberty hits so not only is it necessary to tell children about their changing bodies but also to inform them about sexuality.

And on that note, where did sexuality (‘pornography’) even come in to play? Who gets their kicks from looking at the sculpted penis of David? Who gets ‘primal needs’ from looking at the Creation of Adam. Are these parents suggesting that everything that is naked, is sexual? I hope not. Is a doctor seeing a naked body sexual? Or a parent seeing their child naked, is that sexual? Or my helping a friend by changing her baby’s diaper? Can we please steer very clear from aligning nakedness with sex? They are not the same.

So, calling these works of art pornographic is so far-fetched that one has to do a frigging needle-in-a-haystack-type search to identify a problem in the first place. It’s ridiculous. In my modest opinion…

Power to a minority?

The school board’s chair let the opinion of three parents prevail. Their little sensitive darlings were confronted with a marble- and painted-penis during an art class, so the teacher that had shown them these images had to go. Honestly? Why did this school board’s chair not stand up to these parents? Why did he not defend his head teacher, who was, by the way, the third principal of that school in less than two years?

He even said in an interview “that parental rights are supreme and that means protecting the interests of all parents, whether it is one, 10, 20 or 50.” I appreciate that he wants to convey that every opinion matters. But can you really run a school if you give parents such a big voice? Imagine that three parents that happen to be members of the NRA feel that children should be allowed to protect themselves with firearms and should therefore be allowed to take guns to school?

Is that too horrible and inconceivable? I hope so. But just let your own imagination run free on what could happen if we let tiny minorities run things….

It has now cost the principal of this school her job. What’s next?

Wouldn’t it have been more logical, wise and fair to defend the principal’s art class (again, she was showing world famous pieces of art, not a fragment from ‘Fifty shades of grey’), and tell these three parents to take their child elsewhere if they didn’t approve of the school’s curriculum?

Potentially controversial?

As a response to this event, the school has decided that from now on, parents are allowed to go over the curriculum two weeks in advance of ‘potentially controversial’ subjects. But how will that work? What is controversial to one, is not necessarily controversial to another.

Has the school basically given the parents the control of the entire curriculum? How successful does the school reckon they’ll be in getting 30 parents (per class, per subject, per term, each year again) to agree on ‘potentially controversial’ topics? You can never please everyone. So, whatever the school, or anyone else, decides, there will always be antagonists.

A principal has been fired because a tiny minority decided that showing images of the embodiment (pun intended) of Renaissance art works were hurtful to their young teenagers. Honestly. Where is our common sense?

But who knows. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I have to adjust to today’s world and leave my old way of thinking behind me. Because just as one might ask the question: ‘What is potentially controversial?’, one could also ask the question: ‘What is common sense? Isn’t that just as subjective?