The Newport Mesa School District (NMUSD) in Orange County, California, announced they would be "investigating" a teacher who jokingly suggested in a TikTok video she had her students pledge allegiance to an LGBTQ Pride flag in the classroom.
In a clip that riled conservatives on social media, the teacher, Kristin Pitzen, began explaining:
"Okay, so during third period, we have announcements and they do the pledge of allegiance."
The clip was also shared by "a sometimes parody" account, the Libs of TikTok, on Twitter.
"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."
However, the teacher mentioned there was no American flag for her students to pledge allegiance to in the classroom because she took it down during the pandemic.
She whispered that "it made her feel uncomfortable."
"I packed it away and I don't know where," she said, adding that she still hasn't found the patriotic banner yet.
"But my kid today goes, 'Hey, it's kinda weird that we just stand and we say [the pledge of allegiance] to nothing.'"
Pitzen told the young student that she was "working on it."
"In the meantime, I tell this kid, 'We do have a flag in the classroom you can pledge your allegiance to.' And he like, looks around and goes, 'Oh, that one?'"
The clip ended with Pitzen pointing to a Progress Pride flag on the wall behind her while giggling.
The pro-LGBTQ teacher had posted another video in which she pledged allegiance "to the queers" while showing off various Pride flags decorating her classroom.
By the time Pitzen removed her TikTok account with the video, a conservative Twitter page, known as Patriots, was up in arms and labeled her an "indoctrinator with an ungodly social agenda".
A hate campaign against Pitzen and NMUSD was launched on Facebook after flustered social media users managed to track her down.
The page slammed her as "an absolute disgrace to teachers!" and added:
"Keep your own views and political stances out of the classroom!"
"If the USA flag makes you uncomfortable, as a teacher that you belittle children that are asking for the flag for the pledge of allegiance, then find another career that is not effecting [sic] our youth!"
Many of the comments suggested the teacher be fired.
Even Richard Grenell, the former interim director of national intelligence for former President Donald Trump's cabinet in 2020, responded to the video by calling Pitzen a "wacko."
"What kind of parent would allow their child to be taught by this wacko?"
"Why are parents turning their kids over to someone they don't know? I'd like to talk to people who think this is good?!?"
Many criticized the ritual of venerating the American flag in the classroom.
People who saw the humor in the video were in the minority.
The school district later announced on Facebook they were going to investigate the incident.
"On Friday evening, one of our teachers created a personal social media post that caused alarm and concern related to saluting the American flag."
"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."