Former headteacher invited to Italy after showing 'pornographic' image of the David

The leaders of Italy and Germany speak in front of the David in 2015. Credit: AP

The Florence museum housing Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece, the David, has invited students from a Florida school to visit after complaints about a lesson featuring the statue forced the headteacher to resign.

Florence Mayor Dario Nardella also tweeted an invitation for the principal to visit so he can personally honour her.

Board members of the Tallahassee Classical School pressured Principal Hope Carrasquilla to resign last week after an image of the David was shown to an art class of 11 to 12-year-olds.

The school has a policy requiring parents to be notified in advance about "controversial" topics being taught.

The story has been covered extensively in Italy where locals are perplexed to see Renaissance masterpieces pulled into US cultural debates.

Sunday’s front page of the Italian daily publication Corriere della Sera featured a cartoon by its leading satirist depicting David with his genitals covered by an image of Uncle Sam and the word "Shame."

Ms Carrasquilla believes the board targeted her after three parents complained about a lesson including a photo of the David, a 5-metre tall nude marble sculpture dating from 1504.

The work, reflecting the height of the Italian Renaissance, depicts the Biblical David going to fight Goliath armed only with his faith in God.

Mc Carrasquilla has said two parents complained because they weren’t notified in advance that a nude would be shown, while a third called the iconic statue pornographic.

She said on Sunday she was "honoured" by the invitations to Italy and may accept.

"I am totally, like, wow," Ms Carasquilla said. "I’ve been to Florence before and have seen the David up close and in person, but I would love to go and be a guest of the mayor."

Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia, where the David resides, expressed astonishment at the controversy.

"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," Ms Hollberg said.

She invited Ms Carasquilla, the school board, parents and the student body to view the "purity" of the statue.

Tallahassee Classical is a charter school, which effectively runs independently of the Florida state curriculum despite being government funded.

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It has around 400 students and follows a curriculum designed by Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan frequently consulted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on educational issues.

The school has been open three years and is on its third headteacher.

Barney Bishop, chairman of Tallahassee Classical’s school board, has told reporters that while the photo of the statue played a part in Carrasquilla’s ouster, it wasn’t the only factor. He has declined to elaborate, while defending the decision.

"Parents are entitled to know anytime their child is being taught a controversial topic and picture," Bishop said in an interview with Slate online magazine.

Several parents and teachers plan to protest Ms Carrasquilla’s exit at Monday night’s school board meeting, but Ms Carrasquilla said she isn’t sure she would take the job back even if it were offered.