MONSON, Mass. (WWLP) – Monson High School students are expressing their frustration after a rock they painted for LGBTQ pride was painted over white.
Students told 22News they are calling for the visibility of their community and are disappointed that the school chose to paint over the rock.
“We felt horrible,” said Rachel Toepher, a student. “We felt insulted and we felt like they were white-washing our rock.”
Toepher is among other Monson H.S. seniors who wanted to end their last year at the school with an annual tradition and that’s painting a large rock in front of their school.
“This year, no one stepped up to paint it because everyone was home,” said Cameron Bouchard, another student. “The art teacher asked us if we wanted to paint the rock. We said yes.”
They decided on a rainbow, to represent their LGBTQ community. What they didn’t think their rock would do was create controversy within the community, resulting in it being painted over by the school.
When 22News spoke with the students, they said the rock isn’t painted until the following year by the next graduating class. But the superintendent, Cheryl Clarke of Monson Public Schools said when this rock is repainted can vary.
The superintendent added, “There were concerns by other seniors that they did not reach a consensus on how the rock should be painted, and from the community about how it was painted.”
“Many people felt that we had some kind of agenda. We were heavily scrutinized just for painting the rock rainbow,” said Matthew Sweet, a student.
The students told 22News they wish the situation had been handled differently.
Toepher said, “We feel, as a small town, Monson doesn’t have a whole lot of representation. We felt that we could spread equality, equity, and inclusivity by painting the rock rainbow.”
The superintendent said the school waited until pride month concluded before painting the rock white.