Michigan bisexual high school teacher quits after he had to remove Pride flag

A Michigan bisexual teacher quit his job after he refused to follow orders from school principals to remove a Pride flag from his classroom.

Russell Ball, 43, taught physical education and health at Three Rivers Middle School for just one year but resigned on Monday.

Ball, who previously taught in Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor for a decade, received an email Friday from school officials saying that prosecutors were advising teachers to remove Pride flags until further notice due to “external challenges,” he told the DailyMail. com.

The father of five, who identifies as bisexual, said he was discouraged by the message and refused to remove the flag from his classroom.

However, by the second term on Monday, he received a text message from the assistant director giving him an ultimatum to remove the Pride flag.

“After more than 10 years in education, I resigned today, drove home for the last time and will not return,” Ball said in a TikTok video of his experience.

“The Pride flag is not a political statement. It is a human rights statement because we are all human. We should all have the same rights. But we don’t,” he reflected in the video.

Russell Ball, 43, had only taught physical education and health at Three Rivers Middle School for a year, but resigned on Monday

“The Pride flag is not a political statement.  It is a human rights statement because we are all human.  We should all have the same rights.  But we don't,

“The Pride flag is not a political statement.  It is a human rights statement because we are all human.  We should all have the same rights.  But we don't,

Russell Ball, 43, had taught physical education and health at Three Rivers Middle School for a year but resigned on Monday. “The Pride flag is not a political statement. It is a human rights statement because we are all human. We should all have the same rights. But we don’t,” he reflected in a TikTok video

“By removing it, I feel like I'm being told I'm an invalid, that I don't belong.  And that's not a message I want to send to myself or any of my students, because regardless of sexual orientation and sexual identity, you belong, you matter.  You always have a place in this world', he said

“By removing it, I feel like I'm being told I'm an invalid, that I don't belong.  And that's not a message I want to send to myself or any of my students, because regardless of sexual orientation and sexual identity, you belong, you matter.  You always have a place in this world', he said

“By removing it, I feel like I’m being told I’m an invalid, that I don’t belong. And that’s not a message I want to send to myself or any of my students, because regardless of sexual orientation and sexual identity, you belong, you matter. You always have a place in this world’, he said

Nikki Nash, Three Rivers interim superintendent, said in a statement to MLive: “This is an ongoing situation. We continue to work with the district law firm and education council to ensure we provide a safe learning environment for all students.

He continued: ‘By removing it, I feel like I’m being told I’m an invalid, that I don’t belong. And that’s not a message I want to send to myself or any of my students, because regardless of sexual orientation and sexual identity, you belong, you matter. You always have a place in this world.’

Ball said teaching during the pandemic had been tough, but he took the job at Three Rivers in hopes of reviving his teaching career.

He was hired at the last minute when a Three Rivers teacher took a job as a high school teacher. Ball joined the ward three weeks after the school year started.

‘I already felt a high degree of burnout among teachers and struggled to meet the day-to-day demands of the educational field. But when the government came along and told me to take down my Pride flag, I said no, I would not be an active participant in the oppression and oppression of an already marginalized group that I am a part of,” he said in the video while he donned a beanie with the colors of the Pride flag.

Ball (pictured with wife Andria Ball) also said he wanted to move forward with activism, having participated in BLM and gun control protests and volunteered at the local Pride festival

Ball (pictured with wife Andria Ball) also said he wanted to move forward with activism, having participated in BLM and gun control protests and volunteered at the local Pride festival

Ball (pictured with wife Andria Ball) also said he wanted to move forward with activism, having participated in BLM and gun control protests and volunteered at the local Pride festival

According to Ball, at least half a dozen Three Rivers teachers, including him, had Pride flags in their classrooms

According to Ball, at least half a dozen Three Rivers teachers, including him, had Pride flags in their classrooms

According to Ball, at least half a dozen Three Rivers teachers, including him, had Pride flags in their classrooms

Ball said his partner, Andria Ball, supported him despite initial concerns after he quit.

“It was difficult at first to leave a job without one in line, but it all changed with the outpouring of support,” he said.

Ball said he now plans to enjoy his time as a stay-at-home dad to his five children, including a 10-month-old.

He also said he wanted to move forward with activism, having participated in BLM and gun control protests and volunteering at the local Pride festival.

According to Ball, at least half a dozen Three Rivers teachers, including him, had Pride flags in their classrooms.

“The Pride flag represents love, inclusion and equality — something that should be in every classroom across the country,” Ball said.

He added, “I got into education because I enjoy seeing kids succeed and achieve their goals and be there for them when it happens.”

On TikTok, parents and students supported Ball’s decision.

Mary K, who said she’s a parent in the ward, replied, “This is extremely discouraging. I am a parent of a TR Middle Schooler who is devastated at this loss. Thank you for standing up for what is right.”

“The Pride flag represents love, inclusion and equality, something that should be in every classroom across the country,” Ball said.  Above, at a protest against hate

“The Pride flag represents love, inclusion and equality, something that should be in every classroom across the country,” Ball said.  Above, at a protest against hate

“The Pride flag represents love, inclusion and equality, something that should be in every classroom across the country,” Ball said. Above, at a protest against hate

On TikTok, both parents and students supported Ball's decision.

On TikTok, both parents and students supported Ball's decision.

On TikTok, both parents and students supported Ball’s decision.

User Mary K, who said she’s a parent in the district, said, “This is extremely discouraging. I am a parent of a TR Middle Schooler who is devastated at this loss. Thank you for standing up for what is right’

Meanwhile, user @Annawritenow said, “From a fellow educator and ally: I see you, you’re right. Thank you for standing up for what is right and right’

‘Wow. You’re the kind of teacher the kids should have, and the district made a terrible mistake. My heart goes out to you. You matter,” said another user.

Meanwhile, user @Annawritenow said, “From a fellow educator and ally: I see you, you’re right. Thank you for standing up for what is right and right.’

Ball said he has been approached by a law firm investigating the incident to see if there has been any violation of rights or laws. But he said that wasn’t the reason he stood up for his faith.

‘I believe in setting an example for children. I believe in learning by conviction,’ he said.

Former students of Russell are planning a protest on his behalf at the next school board meeting, scheduled for December 6 at 6 p.m. Bell said he will be there to support them.

Nikki Nash, Interim Superintendent of Three Rivers said in a statement: MLive: ‘This is an ongoing situation. We will continue to work with the district law firm and education council to ensure a safe learning environment for all students.”

Ball said he has not been contacted by school administrators since the incident.

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