Fact Check

Did Florida School Ban 'Madonna and Child,' Calling It an 'Assault on Family Values'?

According to a satirical article, the Renaissance painting suffered from a purported lack of enthusiasm for motherhood.

Published April 3, 2023

A Florida high school censored a Renaissance painting called "Madonna and Child," calling it an “assault on family values.”

On April 1, 2023, the media outlet Hyperallergic posted a story headlined "Florida School Censors Madonna and Child; Calls It 'Assault on Family Values.'" The piece, filed under the label "satire," opened with these claims:

A high school principal in Jacksonville, Florida has banned his teachers from showing an Early Renaissance painting of the Madonna and Child, claiming the Virgin Mary "doesn't look happy enough" about experiencing the joy of motherhood. Governor Ron DeSantis quickly voiced his support for the principal, adding that Mary Magdalene "looks like a hooker."

Randy McRandall, who has served as the principal of Jacksonville Central High School since 2021, announced his decision to remove Neroccio di Bartolomeo de' Landi's "Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and St. Mary Magdalene" (1495) from the curriculum in a school-wide email earlier this week. Citing the Virgin Mary's "lack of enthusiasm," he stated that the painting is "an assault on family values" that constitutes "a partisan attack on the pro-life movement."

Following the story's initial publication, the words "Update: April Fools!" were added at the end of the piece.  Because it was always described as a satirical article, we rate the claim "Labeled Satire."

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.


Velie, Elaine. "Florida School Censors Madonna and Child; Calls It "Assault on Family Values" (Satire)." Hyperallergic, 1 Apr. 2023, http://hyperallergic.com/811443/florida-school-censors-madonna-and-child-calls-it-assault-on-family-values/.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.