After His High School Deemed This Student's LGBTQ+ Art 'Inappropriate,' It Received National Recognition

"Art is just materialized passion, and my passions stand with the queer community."

Jasper Behrends, a transgender teenager, was in the middle of his AP studio art concentration when the subject matter of gender, sexuality, and body dysphoria was deemed "inappropriate" by his school's administration. 

"The school vice principal came to me after my art teacher informed the administration about my 'potentially sensitive' concentration subject," Behrends told PRIDE. "He said that although he had 'no problem' with the LGBTQ theme, there is a 'time and a place' for 'these things' and that it did not belong in public schools." 

The administration also told the 18-year-old that his art needed to follow the school's dress code, meaning no one could be shirtless in his drawings. However, this mandate only applied to Behrends' AP concentration, not any of his previous work or other student's work. 

Despite the school's condemnation, Behrends didn't succumb to the pressure and stayed committed to his work. "Ever since I was a kid, art has always been an outlet I use to express myself," he explained. "After a lot of arguing, I just decided to ignore everyone and keep doing it." 

Though he wasn't allowed to feature his work in any of the school art shows or even show it to his parents, he nonetheless remained proud of the statement he made both on and off the canvas.

That persistence soon paid off — and proved all of Behrends' naysayers wrong. 

At the end of his senior year, Jasper submitted his studio art exhibit to the AP College Board and not only earned a 5 — the highest possible score — but also received national recognition. The College Board selected Behrends' work for "inclusion in the 2017-2018 AP Studio Art Exhibit," produced annually "to honor and celebrate the work of outstanding AP Studio Art students."

Since Behrend posted the tweet announcing it on July 12, it has since received more than 44,000 likes and 13,000 retweets. The outpouring of support for not only his work but his defense of authentic self-expression has further encouraged an already dedicated Behrends to continue doing what he loves. "I will definitely keep creating queer art," Jasper told the website. "It's literally the only type of art I truly enjoy doing. Art is just materialized passion, and my passions stand with the queer community."

Those interested in viewing more of Behrends' artwork can visit his online portfolio

A Plus has reached out to Jasper Behrends for comment.

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