A landscaper will no longer paint murals on a football field in Tennessee after he says school employees asked him to cover his latest work: a rainbow with animals.
On the morning of Friday, August 26, Shaun Trent had just completed a tradition he had maintained for years: painting the Macon County High School logo on the 50-yard line of their football field with an artistic touch, he said. he told SuperTalk. 99.7 WTN the following Monday.
Trent, who runs landscaping company Trent’s Professional Grounds in Lafayette, Tennessee, told the radio show that to commemorate Rainbow Bridge Memorial Day – a holiday commemorating animals deceased pets – he decided to paint a rainbow with animals walking on it inside the letters “MC.”
He posted photos of his work on Facebook, captioning them “In memory of our pets who crossed the Rainbow Bridge and are waiting for us on the other side.”
But soon after he finished that morning, the head football coach called him and asked him to cover his latest board, Trent told WSMV. The Macon County Schools Superintendent also called him with the same message.
“I never thought to offend anyone,” Trent said, according to WKRN. “I thought everyone knew what the Rainbow Bridge was.”
He told the radio station that he was asked to cover his artwork for fear that it would be associated with LGBTQ symbolism, as the LGBTQ Pride flag uses rainbow colors.
School district officials did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment.
Trent had worked for the county for 12 years and had painted the football field murals for five of those years, he said on air. He did the job for free and until the recent incident said he was allowed to paint whatever he wanted. According to photos on her Facebook page, this usually included holiday-themed artwork.
Trent said he didn’t have the heart to hide what he had worked so hard on.
“You can’t do that to someone who’s so proud of something like that,” Trent told WSMV. “You can’t censor them and do this, especially after you’ve trusted them so much. It crushed me, it crushed my soul.
NewsChannel 5 Nashville reporter Nick Beres posted before and after photos on Facebook that the painting was allegedly covered up by school officials ahead of the football game. The spot on the pitch where the rainbow used to be inside the “MC” logo appears to be covered to blend in with the letters, but has a distinct circular outline.
Trent said on his company’s Facebook page later the same day that he would no longer be painting for the county.
“I promise I didn’t mean to cause any trouble,” the post said. “I put my heart and soul into these paintings and into maintaining this area for our community.”
The post has been shared by dozens and has nearly 500 comments expressing their disappointment and support.
“Your art is beautiful. If anyone is offended, it’s on them. For my part, I always look forward to seeing what our beautiful pitch will look like every time,” one person commented.
“That’s ridiculous! I hate when someone’s stupidity makes you feel like that. I think you guys did an amazing job and some of the most inspiring ideas I’ve ever seen,” said another.
Kayla Lanier, a Macon County resident and frequent attendee of local football games, made t-shirts with the hashtag #IStandWithTrent to raise money for the landscaper. She told McClatchy News she’s sold nearly 40 shirts so far and that she and Trent have agreed to donate the proceeds to Friends of Macon County, a local animal shelter.
“I made the shirts because I read his story and thought that [was] not good at all,” Lanier told McClatchy News. “If he sees how much love and support he’s had with these shirts that people wear with his art, maybe he wouldn’t just give up. art!
“It’s a horrible feeling to know that you drove someone crazy or pissed someone off with your painting because that’s not the artist’s intention,” Trent told WKRN. “You just paint what comes to you. Now I have to look back and think in my mind, am I now painting things that offend people? »
Lafayette is about 60 miles northeast of Nashville.