Kristin Pitzen, a teacher at a California school, is facing severe criticism after she allegedly told a student to pledge allegiance to the Pride flag while simultaneously hiding the American flag from the classroom. The English teacher works for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and is currently under investigation after a now-viral video revealed her inappropriate actions.
In the video, posted by Libs of Tik Tok on Twitter, Kristin Pitzen told viewers that the American flag makes her uncomfortable and subsequently hid it from students. When asked where it was, Pitzen told students that she was “working on it” and then joked that they can pledge allegiance to the Pride flag instead.
“OK, so during third period, we do announcements and they do the Pledge of Allegiance,” Pitzen explained in a video shared to her TikTok account, @mrsgillingsworth. “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.’ So my class decided to stand but not say the words. Totally fine. Except for the fact that my room does not have a flag.”
Kristin Pitzen then pointed to an empty wall and told her followers that she got rid of it during the Covid-19 pandemic “because it made [her] uncomfortable. It’s unclear what she did with the flag, though she claimed she put it in storage and hasn’t been able to find it since.
She continued her story, saying that “my kid today goes, ‘Hey, it’s kind of weird that we just stand and we say it to nothing.’” She admitted in the video that she told her student that she was trying to find the flag but later shakes her hand as if to indicate that she was not working to find it.
“In the meantime, I tell this kid, ‘We do have a flag in the class that you can pledge your allegiance to,’
Kristin Pitzer added. “And he like looks around and goes, ‘Oh, that one?’” in the video, Pitzen showed off her pride flag and laughed.
Since the video went viral, outrage has spread across social media. Many people, including parents, were frustrated with the teacher for sharing her political views with her students.
“Students should never know your political views,” Jodi L. Montgomery Waters wrote on Facebook. “She needs to be relieved of her access to “indoctrinating”…I mean, teaching students. Maybe she should sit with a grieving family who just lost their son or daughter to understand what the flag meant to them.”
One Twitter user explained that “in Germany, teachers have to be politically neutral, no matter the topic.” They said that the “goal is to have students make up their own mind about stuff.”
Others defended the teacher. Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer for The Atlantic, wrote that “this is cancel culture. Stop piling on this random teacher.”
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District is reportedly investigating the incident. It said in a statement posted to Facebook that “on Friday evening, one of our teachers created a personal social media post that caused alarm and concern related to saluting the American flag.”
The school district continued, saying 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.”
In a statement to NBC News, a spokesperson for the California school district explained that “while we do not discuss employee-related matters, we can tell you that showing respect and honor for our nation’s flag is a value that we instill in our students and an expectation of our employees. We take matters like this seriously and are taking action to address it.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what actions the school district was taking to address the issue. The spokesperson also did not clarify what the district’s policy was involving the Pledge of Allegiance or flags in the classrooms.
In a separate video posted to her TikTok in June, Kristin Pitzen showed off the many Pride flags placed around her classroom. She boasted that she purchased many of them from Target for $1. She claimed she bought them for Pride month and joked that “I pledge allegiance to the queers.” That video has also resurfaced, drawing more attention to the California school teacher.