Teacher who joked about students pledging allegiance to Pride flag ‘removed from classroom’

Teacher whose students pledged allegiance to Pride flag 'removed from classroom'

A teacher who filmed a TikTok video saying that she told her class to pledge allegiance to the LGBT+ Progress Pride flag has been “removed from the classroom” after attacks from conservatives.

Kristin Pitzen, who teaches in southern California, also deleted her social media accounts after online attacks from conservative and far-right accounts, according to the Los Angeles Blade.

In the video, Pitzen says: “During third period, we have announcements and they do the pledge of allegiance. 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, you don’t have to say the words.

“So, my class decided to stand but not say the words. Totally fine.”

Telling a story about a student who said that it was “weird” to pledge allegiance with no flag in the classroom, Pitzen explains in an aside to the camera that the US flag was packed away during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that she now can’t find it – adding in a pointed whisper that it “made her uncomfortable”.

She continues: “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?'”

Pitzen then points the camera at an LGBT+ Progress pride flag – an update of the original rainbow Pride flag that specifically includes people of colour and trans people – which is hanging on the wall above her head. She is heard laughing throughout the video.

After a pile-on over the weekend, Newport-Mesa Unified School District told Newsweek that Pitzen is no longer teaching while the district continues to investigate the incident where she pretended to make students pledge allegiance to the Pride flag.

“The teacher is no longer in the classroom,” district spokeswoman Annette Franco wrote in an email. “We follow due process and our investigation continues.”

Teacher branded a ‘wacko’ for pretending she told kids to pledge allegiance to Pride flag

While many saw the funny side of the teacher’s post, suggesting the video was merely a joke, it attracted a right-wing backlash after it was shared by a Twitter account called “Libs of TikTok” on 27 August.

The ensuing vitriol saw the teacher accused of being an “indoctrinator with an ungodly social agenda”.

Richard Grenell, the gay former US ambassador to Germany in the Trump administration, called Pitzen a “wacko” and questioned whether she should be a teacher.

“What kind of parent would allow their child to be taught by this wacko?” Grenell, who was the first openly gay man to serve in a cabinet position in the US, tweeted, adding: “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?!?”

Pitzen is an English-as-a-second-language teacher for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, which posted an initial statement after receiving hundreds of enraged messages about the parody video on Facebook.

“On Friday evening, one of our teachers created a personal social media post that caused alarm and concern related to saluting the American flag,” the school said.

“Showing respect for our nation’s flag is an important value our District instills in our students and is an expectation of our employees. We take this matter seriously and are investigating and addressing it.”