Utah teacher fired after sixth-graders see nudity in art

A sixth-grade art teacher was fired from the Cache County School District after showing his students two classical art paintings that depicted nudity, including "Odalisque" by 18th-century artist Francois Boucher, date and location unspecified | Image of "Odalisque" distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH; Boucher portrait from Wikipedia, St. George News

LOGAN, Utah (AP) — A Utah art teacher was fired amid complaints that images of classical paintings containing nudity were passed out in a classroom and seen by sixth-graders, a newspaper reported.

Mateo Rueda said he wasn’t aware that a set of educational postcards from the elementary school library contained a few works depicting nudity when he handed them out during a lesson, the Herald Journal newspaper said Thursday.

He removed the cards when they made students uncomfortable, the paper reported .

“This is not material at all that I would use. I had no idea,” Rueda said.

He said he has requested a hearing and plans to appeal his termination to clear his reputation.

A few days after the Dec. 4 lesson, police went to Lincoln Elementary School in Hyrum, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City, to investigate a complaint that Rudea was showing pornography to students.

Cache County deputies found Principal Jeni Buist shredding postcards — at the request of the school district — that contained nudity, said Sheriff Chad Jensen.

Deputies showed some of the images to prosecutors, who decided they were not pornography, Jenson said.

The Cache County School District declined to comment, saying it’s a personnel matter.

The two images seen by students were the Impressionist-era portrait “Iris Tree” by Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani and the Rococo-style partial nude “Odalisque” by 18th-century artist Francois Boucher, the teacher said.

Parent Venessa Rose Pixton said she’s upset because Rueda’s handling of the situation belittled students, including her 11-year-old son.

“He said Mr. Mateo even told the class ‘There’s nothing wrong with female nipples. You guys need to grow up and be mature about this,'” Pixton said.

Rueda denied making that statement and said he simply explained the human body is often portrayed in art displayed in museums.
Some parents are supporting Rueda.

Kamee Jensen wrote a letter to the Herald Journal defending him and said her daughter wasn’t offended by the pictures.

“She was just very upset that her teacher was in trouble,” Jensen said.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

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  • DRT December 29, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    What a bunch of self-righteous, arrogant, ignorant, hypocrites.
    Hell, why don’t they take this teacher out, tar and feather him, and ride him out of town on a rail. Meanwhile, let’s all pretend shock that our precious children are going to become sexually active from viewing a work of art. These people would have been right at home in Salem, during the witch hunts!

    • Real Life December 29, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      They fit right in here in The People’s Republic of Utah.

  • desertgirl December 29, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Seriously? Geez. The extremism is out of control. The other end of the spectrum is pushing ‘non-gender’ to our kids and how to give oral sex. What the hell is wrong?

    • theone December 30, 2017 at 9:52 am

      How to give oral sex????? Where do you get your information? Provide us with a source that backs your stupid claim of kids being taught to give oral sex.

  • mmsandie December 29, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    What is wrong with people in Utah and education..it’s art and history. There were many artists who painted nudity withsome fabric etc . Flowers e5c.. look at ceiling in Sistine chapel in Vatican church..angels and saints painted in nude positions..not offensive.. in Utah kids experiment with earlier than 6 th grade, have babies at 15 and16.. but din t understand art…itsthe parents fault.

  • comments December 29, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    oh my goodness! FEMALE BREASTS AND BUTTOCKS! these children will be scarred for life! Imagine if these poor traumatized children had seen a painting depicting a penis!!! It would’ve ruined them!!!

    • DB December 30, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      None of these people involved have ever been to the shopping arcade at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas…

  • utahdiablo December 29, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    What a bunch of BS….better not show them anything from ancient Rome….the teacher will win and the state will pay

  • utahdiablo December 29, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    The teacher will sue and be set for life….stupid school district telling the principal to shred the postcards….what’s next? Book burnings?

  • theone December 30, 2017 at 9:54 am

    This is just one more example of what the belief in a delusional fairy tale causes.

  • blueford December 31, 2017 at 10:44 am

    The picture shown is not the full picture. He did not just show nudity————The picture is covered by the man’s face. Look at the feet of the woman. Her whole backside is shown and legs spread and also shows her other parts. It was not nudity as art goes but more sexual in nature and on the lines of Porn. He was expressing art as porn art not nudity in art. There is more to the story and that is why the newspaper even had to cover up the picture. If done right, some nudity is expressive without being vulgar. Get the REAL PICTURE. The artist may even have a history of porn. I have had art teachers teach about the simplistic nudity in art and the body as a whole in pictures. Done right at that age it will work and help teach. But vulgar art has no place in Utah’s classrooms.

  • 42214 December 31, 2017 at 10:50 am

    You wonder why many other states stereotype Utah as a haven for religious zealots and prudish conservatives.

  • MSLL January 4, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Only in Utah. When will people understand that the more you repress and suppress, the more likely people will want it more but have a twisted understanding of such a natural biological thing? Get educated and stop making such a big deal of something that should be natural and beautiful.

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