A Michigan public school teacher resigned last week after refusing to take down a rainbow Pride flag in his classroom, MLive reported.
What are the details?
Russell Ball (43) was a physical education and health teacher at Three Rivers Middle School before he resigned last week, the outlet said. Three Rivers is about 40 minutes south of Kalamazoo in the southwest corner of the state.
He told WXMI-TV that a parental complaint led to higher ups ordering the Pride flag removal.
“To me, the flag stands for love and inclusion for everybody, not just for members of the LGBTQ community,” Ball — who identifies as bisexual — told MLive. “Removing the flag kind of felt like I was being complicit in suppressing and continuously marginalizing the students that have already been significantly marginalized, and I wasn’t gonna take a part in that.”
Ball explained to the outlet that administrators emailed staff on Friday saying attorneys for the district advised that teachers should remove Pride flags until further notice. A second email last Monday advised the school to remove all flags and said teachers weren’t allowed to have any flags hanging up, he added to MLive.
Ball noted to the outlet that he kept his Pride flag hanging in his classroom Monday despite the order — and soon got a text from the assistant principal stating he must remove the flag by the start of fourth period.
Instead, Ball packed up his things and handed in his resignation, MLive said.
“It is something that’s so important to me — that that my students have that safe space — that I wasn’t willing to continue in education without it,” he noted to the outlet.
Ball also claimed to WXMI that he wasn't the only school employee to have a Pride flag hanging in a classroom — but that he was the final holdout.
"I had students that were happy to see the flag and in the room that were telling me, 'Thank you for being here,'" he added to the station.
MLive said Ball announced his resignation in a Monday Tik Tok video that was shared on Facebook:
Michigan Teacher Resigns over Pride Flagyoutu.be
More from the outlet:
“After 10 plus years in education, I tendered my resignation today, drove home for the last time and won’t be returning,” Ball said in the video of him sitting in his parked car and talking into the camera.
“I was already feeling a high level of teacher burnout and struggling to meet the day-to-day demands of the education field. But when administration came around and told me I had to take down my Pride flag, I told them no, I was not going to be an active participant in the suppression and oppression of an already marginalized group that I’m a part of.”
Ball said in the video that he kept a Pride flag in his classroom as a symbol of love, inclusion and equality – “something that should be present in every single classroom across the country,” he said.
“By removing it, I feel like I’m being told I am invalidated, that I don’t belong,” he said. “And that’s not a message I want to send to myself, or to any of my students, because regardless of sexual orientation and sexual identity, you belong, you matter. You always have a place in this world.”
The removal of Pride flags from the classrooms will be a discussion topic at the district's Dec. 6 school board meeting, MLive said, citing a Wednesday statement from interim Superintendent Nikki Nash and Three Rivers Middle School Principal Jason Bingaman.
And while Ball told the outlet he hasn't tried to fight for his job and will be a stay-at-home dad for now, WXMI — citing Ball — reported that he and others plan to protest the flag removal decision at the school board meeting.
Three Rivers teacher quits job after refusing to remove Pride flagyoutu.be