The teacher rose to internet fame after one of her TikToks regarding the Pledge of Allegiance went viral from a page titled "Libs of Tiktok" on Twitter.
Recently, Mrs. Gillingsworth's social media has disappeared, leading to speculation she may have gotten fired or received backlash for the post. Here's what we know about the incident, explained.
What did Mrs. Gillingsworth do? Her TikTok was about the Pledge of Allegiance.
In a since-deleted TikTok video reposted by "Libs of Tiktok" on Twitter, high school teacher Kristin Pitzen, also known as Mrs. Gillingsworth, suggested her students say the Pledge of Allegiance to a pride flag.
In the video, Mrs. Gillingsworth says, "During third period they do the Pledge of Allegiance. 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, 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."
She continues, "[The flag] used to be there but I took it down during Covid because it made me uncomfortable and I packed it away… and I havent found it yet.
“My kid today goes ‘hey its kind of weird that we just stand and then we say it to nothing’. In the meantime, I tell this kid, we do have a flag in the class that you can pledge allegiance to and he goes oh that one?" Mrs. Gillingsworth then points to the pride flag in her classroom for emphasis.
Mrs. Gillingsworth's video caused ire across the internet, and Fox News even identified her place of work as Kristin Pitzen of Newport Mesa School District in Orange County, Calif. Her since-deleted LinkedIn page had confirmed the teacher's identity as a high school English teacher, but all her social media has since been removed.
In a statement to Heavy, Hank Bangser, Interim Superintendent of Schools, said, "We are aware of this incident and are investigating.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 will be taking action to address it."
A Facebook post from the school re-emphasizes Hank's statement, and the comments are filled with disparagement from parents, students, and others. Many have insisted that Mrs. Gillingsworth lose her job, but whether she has or not is yet to be seen.