Two Utah high school students have been criticised after posting a "disgusting" photo online on Martin Luther King Jr Day.
The image showed one of the girls pretending to hang herself alongside the caption "happy national n***** day," according to KUTV. She also had an x drawn on each eye.
The two girls are pupils at Hurricane High School in southern Utah - a region known for its strong Mormon influence.
The pupils are now being punished by both their school and the Washington County School District over the Instagram post, however the nature of the punishment has not been revealed.
It is thought the photo was taken where both of the pupils work and according to reports the girl pictured in the photo has now been sacked over the matter.
The principal of the school also used Instagram to respond to the photo, by uploading his own video.
Jody Rich said the situation "saddens me" and it doesn't represent what the school is about. He asked students to think before they act.
He added: "Please join with me as we work hard to ensure that love abounds to drive out any hate."
The director of public relations for the district, Steven Dunham, told 2News: “We have a safe school’s policy and if they are not making other students feel safe in our own schools, in our own community, is significant in the punishments that they could face."
Other parents have also spoken out in anger, one parent claimed thoughts on race start "at home with your parents, with your morals, with your beliefs."