Watch: Bisexual Middle School Teacher Quits Rather than Take Down Pride Flag

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday November 30, 2021

Three Rivers, Mich. former educator Russell Ball
Three Rivers, Mich. former educator Russell Ball  (Source:Screencap/WoodTV.com)

A bisexual middle school teacher resigned when school officials ordered the removal of Pride flags from classrooms following claims of an "external challenge" to the flags, local news outlet Wood TV.com reported.

Russell Ball, a former teacher in Three Rivers, Michigan, told the press that according to rumors about the so-called "external challenge," "one or two parents that complained about the flags being in the classroom," and that was enough for the school district to order that all Pride flags on display in classrooms be removed.

The news channel reported that teachers received a Nov. 19 email directing teachers to take down Pride banners "before kids were back in the classroom." Ball also received another email on Nov. 22.

But rather than remove a symbol of inclusion and acceptance, Ball chose to walk away from the school.

Taking to Twitter, Ball declared that "The PRIDE flag isn't political," and vowed, "I refuse to be an active part of the oppression and suppression of an already marginalized student population."


Ball also cited burnout as a contributing factor to his decision to resign. He will now focus on being a stay-at-home parent to his own five children, the news report said.

"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," Ball told the news channel.

Attacks on LGBTQ+ youth have escalated around the country, with lawmakers in some states pressing for — and passing — a record number of hostile laws, many of them targeting trans children.

The issue of Pride flags in classrooms has also become a flashpoint. As previously reported at EDGE, a Missouri educator, John M. Wallis, was ordered to take down a Pride flag and a sign affirming that all were welcome in his classroom. "Parents reportedly alleged that Wallis was 'going to teach their child to be gay,' " the earlier EDGE article imparted.

Wallace complied with the order, but when he answered student's questions about why the banner vanished from the classroom his truthful reply "led to three or more calls from parents accusing me of pushing my agenda in the classroom," he said, according to local newspaper the Springfield News-Leader.

Wallace resigned as a teacher and "filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights," alleging that the school had created a "hostile work environment" for LGBTQ+ educators.

In Paso Robles, California, a group of students posting a TikTok video showing themselves attempting to flush a Pride flag they had stolen from a classroom and then defecating on it. The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District reacted by banning any such flags larger than 2' x 2' in size.

And in Oregon, a school board banned Pride and BLM banners in classrooms, claiming "that the ban was intended to 'get political symbols and divisive symbols out of our schools.' " A local farmer responded by setting up a large plywood sign painted to resemble a Pride flag and positioned on his land so as to be visible from the school grounds, in a gesture of support for the community's LGBTQ+ students.

Watch the WoodTV.com news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.