A bisexual middle school teacher in Michigan who taught physical education and health resigned from his school earlier this month after he and other educators were told by their school administration to take down any Pride flags hanging in their classrooms.
The teachers at Three Rivers Community Schools in Three Rivers, Mich., were told they had to take the flags down after the district received an "external challenge" about the flags, an email from the district said, according to TV station WOOD.
\u201cI 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\u201d
In a TikTok video, former Three Rivers teacher Russell Ball said he had resigned from the school due to being told to remove the flag. He refused.
"I was not going to be an active participant in the suppression and oppression of an already marginalized group that I'm part of," Ball said in the video. He added that this was on top of the teacher burnout that he was already feeling.
"The Pride flag stands for love, inclusion, and equality -- something that should be present in every classroom across the country. 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 added that regardless of sexual orientation, he wants students to know "you belong in this world."
"The Pride flag is not a political statement. It's a human rights statement. We're all human. We should all have the same rights, but we don't."
Ball identifies as bisexual, according to news outlet MLive. He'd been teaching for more than 10 years.
Three Rivers' interim superintendent and curriculum director, Nikki Nash, said in an emailed statement to MLive, "This is an ongoing situation. 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."
Ball said school administrators haven't reached out to him, and he hasn't tried to fight for his teaching job back. He told MLive that he plans to be a stay-at-home dad for now and see how the flag policy plays out.
Nash said there will be a discussion about the district's policies for flags at the next school board meeting December 6.