A California teacher has been removed from her classroom and is under investigation after joking about her students pledging allegiance to the Pride flag instead of the U.S. flag.
Kristin Pitzen, an English teacher in Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Orange County, Calif., caused outrage among conservatives after she made the joke in a viral TikTok video.
In the video, Pitzen discussed her classroom protocols regarding 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,” she said. “So, my class decided to stand but not say the words. Totally fine.”
Pritzen said that her students had asked what they could pledge allegiance to, given she doesn’t have an American flag in the classroom. She said she had removed it during the COVID-19 pandemic because it made her “feel uncomfortable.”
“”I packed it away and I don’t know where, and I haven’t found it yet,” Pitzen said. “But my kid today goes, ‘Hey, um, it’s kinda weird that we just stand and then, you know, we say it to nothing.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh well, you know, I gotta find it, like, I’m working on it, I got you.'”
Pritzen then told the student that there was a flag he could pledge allegiance to, turning her camera to show an LGBTQ Pride flag hanging on a wall.
In a separate video on Pritzen’s account, she filmed her classroom decorated for Pride Month, saying, “I pledge allegiance to the queers… You’re appreciated. You’re loved. You’re enough. I support you. I got you.”
While some responded positively — and humorously — to Prizen’s video, conservative backlash was swift, especially after it was shared to the Libs of Tik Tok Twitter account.
Teacher mocks the American Flag and suggests to students they can say the Pledge of Allegiance to the pride flag: pic.twitter.com/1QTS5xjPln
— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) August 27, 2021
Pritzen was called an “indoctrinator with an ungodly social agenda” while another person offered to fly her to Afghanistan, where the Taliban has seized control, The Advocate reports.
Gay former Trump administration official Richard Grenell tweeted “What kind of parent would allow their child to be taught by this wacko?” he tweeted. “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?!?”
While Pritzen removed both of the videos on her TikTok related to the flag, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District has launched an investigation into her videos.
Pritzen, who teaches English as a second language, has also been removed from her classroom and is not teaching students while the investigation takes place.
“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 district said in a statement.
“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.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!