Kristin Pitzen, the California schoolteacher who posted a video to social media of herself instructing students to pledge allegiance to the gay pride flag, has been removed from the classroom.
Pitzen recently posted a video on TikTok, where she revealed that she removed the American flag from her classroom in Orange County because it made her feel "uncomfortable."
Pitzen has been placed on administrative leave, according to the school district.
"We are aware that one of our teachers posted a video on their personal social media that caused alarm and concern related to saluting the American flag," Annette Franco, a spokesperson for the Newport Mesa Unified School District, said.
"Showing respect for our nation's flag is an important value that we instill in our students and an expectation of our employees," Franco continued. "I assure you, we take matters like this seriously and will be taking action to address it."
"The teacher is no longer in the classroom," the spokesperson said. "We follow due process and our investigation continues."
"The school district's policy requires that each school conducts daily patriotic exercises, including the pledge of allegiance, with an understanding that the pledge is an expression of patriotism and pride in the U.S.," KTLA reported. "But individuals may choose not to participate in the flag salute for personal reasons."
Pitzen recently deleted her TikTok account, but it was too late, as the @libsoftiktok Twitter account saved the controversial video and posted it online. The video went viral and has been viewed over 1.6 million times, and the tweet has nearly 6,000 Likes.
"OK, so during third period, we have announcements and they do the Pledge of Allegiance," Pitzen says in the video. "I always tell my class, 'Stand if you feel like it, don't stand if you feel like it, say the words if you want, don't have to say the words.'"
"So, my class decided to stand but not say the words. Totally fine," she continued. "Except for the fact that my room does not have a flag."
Pitzen explained that she removed the American flag from her classroom during the pandemic because "it made me uncomfortable."
"I packed it away and I don't know where, and I haven't found it yet," she said while giggling.
When one of her students asked what they should do during the Pledge of Allegiance, she replied, "In the meantime, I tell this kid, 'We do have a flag in the class that you can pledge your allegiance to.' And he like, looks around and goes, 'Oh, that one?'" She then pointed to the gay pride flag hanging on the wall of the classroom.
The video went viral, prompting comments from thousands who believe the teacher is not patriotic, including former acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell, who wrote, "What kind of parent would allow their child to be taught by this wacko? Why are parents turning their kids over to someone they don't know? I'd like to talk to people who think this is good?!?"
After the story went viral online, local residents have placed dozens of miniature American flags and a few gay pride flags on the school grounds.
In another since-deleted TikTok video, Pitzen brags about all of the LGBTQ pride flags she put up in her classroom. "I pledge allegiance to the queers," the teacher says in the video.