A Michigan middle school teacher packed up his belongings and resigned from his job after school officials told him repeatedly to remove a pride flag in his classroom.
Russell Ball, the said teacher, said officials were asking him “to be complicit and in keeping this group of students marginalized.” He insisted that everything he went through in education is to “fight for those students. According to WXMI, he said, “It wasn’t something I was going to do.”
Ball, who taught heath for seventh graders and family consumer science for eighth-graders, gathered his belongings during the third period last Nov. 22 at Three Rivers Middle School. He and the rest of the school staff got an email from the principal on Nov. 19, telling them to take down any pride flag from their classrooms.
This teacher decided to leave his flag in place after the first email.
An email sent to the teachers, as per WWMT, said: “Due to an external challenge in the district that has reached the board level, I have been advised that staff in the building who have pride flags hanging in their rooms will need to take them down until further notice.”
It went on to say, “Mrs. Nash will be on a call today with Thrun Law Firm to get guidance for us, and by the end of the day should have details. Please understand that while I may personally stand behind you and your stance to have the flags up, this is something that I have to do until things get cleared up through Mrs. Nash. Please make sure this is taken care of before kids come in to your class today.”
Bell admitted to receiving a second email but he still refused to remove the flag.
In a TikTok video about how he resigned from his job, he said: “When the administration came around and told me to take down my pride flag, I told them no. I was not going to be an active participant in the suppression and oppression of an already marginalized group that I’m a part of.”
He also mentioned that he told his students about the first message he received and they cheered for him for refusing to take it down.
Ball said that his students knew what the flag means to him and to some of the students at the school. “One of the class periods went as far as cheering and clapping when I told them that.”
The school principal then texted Ball, instructing him to remove the flag by the fourth hour of the same school day that he left the school.
“That’s when during my third-hour plan period, I packed my stuff up and tendered my resignation,” Ball recounted, per a WWMT report.
Ball identifies as bisexual. He said that he intended for his classroom to be a welcoming space for students of all walks of life. He added that his students had appreciated the flag and his work at the school.
Ball went on to say that by quitting his job, he hopes to become an example for his students and for his own kids.
“I hope they take away the belief that – the understanding that there are convictions and beliefs we have that are worth fighting for, and sometimes the loss comes at a price. But it’s worth it, in the end, to stand up for what you believe in and stand up for marginalized populations that may not have a voice of their own,” Ball stated, according to WMMT.
Following the incident, Three Rivers Community Schools sent a statement to families, the staff members, and the media on Nov. 24, claiming that the situation is “ongoing.”
“In regard to the pride flags that were displayed in the classroom, they were temporarily removed from each classroom until the Board of Education could carefully review this matter and gather additional facts. Information was shared with the TRCS Board of Education and [Middle School Principal Jason] Bingaman, who then passed this guidance on to the TRMS staff in the form of an email,” the statements of Three Rivers Community Schools read.
“TRCS continues to explore best ways to support all students, including the continuation of the GSA Club already established at TRMS. Continued guidance of Thrun Law Firm, review of current board policies, and reaching out to other districts for best practices will also be part of this ongoing process. TRCS appreciates all of the contributions of our staff and will continue to comply with its Board policies,” it went on to say.