Kristin Pitzen, a teacher at Back Bay High School in Costa Mesa, who posted a video to social media of herself instructing students to say the pledge of allegiance to a Progress Pride flag, has been removed from her classroom pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation by the Newport Mesa Unified School District.
In a now deleted video Pitzen can be seen saying, “I always tell my class stand if you feel like, don’t stand if you feel like it, say the words if you want, don’t say the words if they don’t want to,” referring to how student take part in the pledge of allegiance in her class. “So my class decided to stand but not say the words. Totally fine. Except for the fact, my room does not have a flag.”
“It used to be there,” she said in the video, pointing to a corner of the whiteboard behind her. “But I took it down during COVID because it made me uncomfortable. And I packed it away, but I don’t know where and I haven’t found it yet.”
But when the students said it was “kind of weird” to stand and say the pledge when there was no American flag in the room, Pitzen explained it was lost in storage at the moment and that she would do her best to find it.
“‘In the meantime,’ I tell this kid, ‘We do have this flag in the class that you can pledge your allegiance to.’ And he looks around and goes, ‘Oh, that one?'” At which point Pitzen panned the camera to show a Progress Pride flag hanging on a wall in the classroom.
Pitzen had earlier posted a video to TikTok showing off the collection of Pride flags in her classroom, saying “I pledge allegiance to the queers.”
Conservatives were quick to share their opinions and Pitzen received harsh backlash for the video.
One person posted to Facebook, saying that Pitzen “is an absolute disgrace to teachers” and warned the teacher to keep her own “views and political stances out of the classroom.”
The Newport-Mesa Unified School district later posted a statement to their Facebook page saying they were aware of the incident and that, “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.”
A followup post read “On Friday evening, one of our teachers created a personal social media post that caused alarm and concern related to saluting the American flag. 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 the teacher is on administrative leave.”