A bisexual teacher has resigned after being told to remove his Pride flag by a school board in Michigan, US.
On November 22, an email instructing teachers to remove any Pride flags from their classrooms was sent to multiple staff across a school district in Three Rivers, Michigan.
The email ordered teachers to take down their Pride flags at the beginning of the day, before students arrived, and not to reinstall them until further notice.
The decision was reportedly prompted by an “external challenge” which had “reached the board level”, NBC News reported.
Shortly after receiving the email, bisexual teacher Russell Ball resigned from his position as physical education teacher at Three Rivers Middle School.
I resigned today after 12 years in education when the district demanded I remove my pride flag from my classroom. I refuse to be an active part of the oppression and suppression of an already marginalized student population. The PRIDE flag isn't political @wwmtnews @outfrontkzoo
— Russell Ball (@coach_lardie) November 22, 2021
He took to TikTok to explain that after being instructed to remove the flag, he refused to comply.
“I was not going to be an active participant in the suppression and oppression of an already marginalised group that I’m part of,” Ball said, explaining that he was already suffering from burnout at the time.
“The Pride flag stands for love, inclusion and equality… By removing it, I feel like I am being told that I am invalidated, that I don’t belong, and that’s not a message I want to send to myself or any of my students.”
He emphasised that it is important to him for his students to feel that they matter and belong, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Ball concluded the video by saying: “The Pride flag is not a political statement. It’s a human right statement. We’re all human. We should all have the same rights… but we don’t.”
Following Ball’s resignation, the interim superintendent of Three Rivers, Nikki Nash, gave a statement to MLive.
“This is an ongoing situation,” Nash said. “We continue to work with the district’s legal firm and board of education to ensure we are providing a safe learning environment for all students.”