Three Rivers teachers told to take down pride flags after ‘challenge’

St. Joseph County

THREE RIVERS, Mich. (WOOD) — A middle school teacher in Three Rivers resigned after he and other teachers were told to remove LGBTQ pride flags they had up in their classrooms.

Teachers were told to take down the flags after Three Rivers Community Schools got an “external challenge” about them.

“The rumors kind of floating around is that one or two parents that complained about the flags being in the classroom,” former Three Rivers teacher Russell Ball said.

The first email came Friday, telling teachers the flags must be gone before kids were back in the classroom. Ball got a second message on the matter Monday.

He said he is a member of the LGBTQ community, as are some of his family and friends.

“To me, the flag represents love and inclusion for everybody, not just whoever is of the LGBTQIA+ community,” Ball said. “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 said 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, Interim Superintendent Nikki Nash called it “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,” the statement continued. “There is a board meeting on December 6th.”

Attorneys representing the district did not reply to Tuesday requests for comment.

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