Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: TikTok
A teacher in Orange County, California has been removed from her post and is under investigation after reportedly encouraging pupils to pledge allegiance to the Progress Pride flag instead of the US flag.
In a since-deleted TikTok video still circulating online, the English teacher - reportedly named Kristin Pitzen - explains that pledging allegiance to the US flag is optional in her classroom.
She then adds that she removed the flag from the room completely because it "made her uncomfortable" and hasn't "found it yet."
California high school teacher says she took down the American flag in her classroom because it made her “uncomfortable”. She claims she has her students say the Pledge of Allegiance to the pride flag instead. pic.twitter.com/eGAWPaw4V5— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) August 29, 2021
"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," Pitzen says in the clip. "So my class decided to stand, but not say the words. Totally fine."
She continues: "I packed it [the US flag] away and I don't know where, and I haven't found it yet. 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.'
"In the meantime I tell this kid: 'We do have a flag you can pledge your allegiance to...'" She then pans to the Progress Pride flag on the wall.
"Alarm and concern"
In an email to Newsweek, Newport-Mesa Unified School District spokeswoman Annette Franco said: "We are aware that one of our teachers posted a video on their personal social media that caused alarm and concern related to saluting the American flag.
"Showing respect for our nation's flag is an important value that we instill in our students and an expectation of our employees."
The statement continues: "The teacher is no longer in the classroom. We follow due process and our investigation continues."
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag is recited daily by students in most US schools. But under the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech, uttering the oath ("I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all") is not a legal requirement.
According to CNN, the Pledge first appeared in a magazine in 1982 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Christopher Columbus to America.