A mural of a "traditional family unit" has stirred controversy at a Rhode Island high school.
For the piece, artist Liz Bierendy painted the progression of a man from childhood to fatherhood. The mural concludes with an image of the man smiling with his wife and son.
But school officials briefly considered painting over the mural because they felt the 17-year-old's depiction of family wasn't representative of "the life experiences of many of the students," WPRO reports.
Instead, the school's assistant principal asked the teen artist to reconsider her piece. But Bierendy, who was raised in a single-parent home, stood by her original vision.
Neverthless, Bierendy said she wasn't trying to cause trouble with the mural.
"I felt bad because I didn’t want to offend anyone. I was scared that maybe it would go out to our homosexual community and I didn’t want them to get in an uprise because I was not trying to preach that’s the right thing to do at all," Bierendy told WPRO.
Although the teen was eventually allowed to move forward with her piece, the incident sparked conversation in the media.
News 9's Kelly Ogle questioned why the depiction of wedding rings caused controversy in the first place.
"You're not incensed by the depiction of the traditional nuclear family or the two wedding rings above the family? Then you're insensitive," Ogle quipped during News 9's segment "My 2 Cents."
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Meanwhile, Cafe Mom blogger Jacqueline Burt observed that there's never a right answer.
"So let me get this straight: Kids are just as likely to get in trouble for aligning themselves with 'mainstream' lifestyle choices as they are with 'alternative' ideas...? What are they supposed to do, exactly?," Burt wrote.
Bierendy's mural aside, recent reports indicate that the traditional family dynamic is indeed changing.
Today, nearly one in four children are born to parents who live together but aren't married, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
For more on Liz Bierendy's story, read the full report at WPRO.