NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A group of students at a Staten Island high school used art to make a social statement, but school administrators took issue with the revealing images they chose to do it.
High school sophomores Andrea Gonzales and Meghan Callahan-Scarcella, both 15, are best friends. Together, they created an artwork intended to draw attention and awareness to sexual assault and consent.
“I was so excited and I wanted people to see this,” Gonzales said. “I wanted people to be aware of consent and the rape culture that is in our society.”
The art piece was a project for Callahan-Scarcella’s photography class at Susan E. Wagner High School on Staten Island.
“The assignment was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, so I thought of feminism first,” Callahan-Scarcella said.
The teens wrote messages on Gonzales’ bare back, such as, “no means no,” “my body, my rules,” and, “you don’t own me.” They then took several pictures to create the piece.
But just one day after it was displayed in the school’s lobby, administrators took it down and called the girls in.
“They said like: ‘We really like your ideas. We think you’re talented. But we just can’t have a minor, because she’s under 18, exposing herself,’” Callahan-Scarcella said.
Some parents agreed.
“I think it’s not appropriate, not appropriate for the age of the kids,” one parent said.
But others saw nothing wrong.
“I think its raising awareness, and I don’t necessarily think the school should have taken it down either,” said parent Bara Zahavi.
The girls said no matter how it is displayed, they just want to raise awareness.
“We still want to get the message out there that how rape is prominent in society, and it needs to be stopped and educated about,” Callahan-Scarcella said.
The students and the school administration have since come to an agreement to reshoot the project with the same messages, written on T-shirts.