(LA Blade) A middle school health teacher walked off the job Nov. 22, then resigned after the school district’s administration ordered LGBT Pride flags removed from classrooms.
Russell Ball, who identifies as a member of the LGBT community, told local media outlets that “The rumors kind of floating around is that one or two parents that complained about the flags being in the classroom.”
“To me, the flag represents love and inclusion for everybody, not just whoever is of the LGBTQIA+ community,” Ball said during an interview last week with NBC News affiliate WOOD TV 8 on Grand Rapids. “I felt very disheartened and saddened. The students losing that representation throughout the classrooms really hurt, losing my own representation in the classroom really hurt. It was just something I was not prepared to do.
He told NBC 8 that, combined with burnout, caused him to resign from his position as a health teacher.
“It all comes down to having some open communication and building understanding that we’re not out to vilify anybody, but we are here and we do exist,” he said.
In a statement posted on its website, the school district’s Interim Superintendent Nikki Nash said officials were notified by what he referred to as an “external party,” Nov. 18. According to Nash, the person questioned information shared within the school day, which also included an inquiry of the Gay Straight Alliance after-school club and pride flags within Three Rivers Middle School classrooms.
“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,” the statement continued. “There is a board meeting on December 6th.”
Attorneys representing the district did not reply Nov. 23 to multiple requests for comment.
Comments on the school district’s Facebook page reflected anger over its decision, with one person writing, “It is disappointing Three Rivers Community Schools has decided to kick protections and support for LGBTQ+ students to the curb for some undisclosed reason. The district claims protection for all students but somehow figured LGBTQ+ students don’t fit in that category for all students and are now willing to show the students and their support network of teachers to the door.”