Michigan School Forces Staff Members To Remove Rainbow Flags and Signs Supporting the LGBTQ Community

Another U.S. school system has been hit with anti-diversity initiatives forcing staff members to take down any signs or symbols showing their support for LGBTQ students.

David Horak of NBC News affiliate WOOD-TV reported that “a middle school teacher in Three Rivers, Michigan, resigned after he and other teachers were told to remove LGBTQ pride flags they had up in their classrooms.”

According to Horak, the teachers “were told to take down the flags after Three Rivers Community Schools got an ‘external challenge’ about them.”

In an interview with WOOD-TV, former Three Rivers teacher Russell Ball said, “the rumor kind of floating around is that one or two parents complained about the flags being in the classroom.”

Staff members were alerted to the change in direction for the school system on a Friday afternoon, with an email warning them that all Pride symbols must be gone from their classrooms before their students came back in on the following Monday morning.

Ball, a member of the LGBTQ community, said he and his fellow staff at the school were angered and hurt by the district’s callous show of discrimination and homophobia.

“To me, the flag represents love and inclusion for everybody, not just whoever is of the LGBTQIA+ community,” he told Horak. “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.”

Ball added that due to the school’s decision, he ultimately decided to resign from his position as a health teacher in the district.

“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.

So far, the Three Rivers school system has had little to say publicly on the issue. Interim Superintendent Nikki Nash called the issue “an ongoing situation,” saying, “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.”

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

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