A Missouri school district is investigating one of its teachers after he was photographed flipping off the White House.
In the picture, the unidentified middle school teacher from Warrensburg, Missouri, can be seen standing in front of the White House with both of his middle fingers up in the air, reports WILX.
He was accompanying students on a trip to Washington, D.C., which was sponsored by a private company. The trip was not sponsored by the school.
After the teacher made the picture his Facebook profile photo, it captured the attention of both parents and the country, sparking controversy, The Kansas City Star reports.
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Some parents were angry and demanded he be fired.
"I don't care how you feel about politics or anything else, but when you are trusted to lead students and this is what is being taught I think it's time you are held accountable for your actions while representing Warrensburg Middle School and the Warrensburg school district," John Hammond, a parent of a student at the school, wrote in the post accompanying the image. "Please feel free to share this post. I'm sure I will have a ton of haters but I don't care. Say and do what you want on your own time but not while representing the school."
The post was shared more than 7,600 times in 11 days, and got more than 5,000 comments.
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Some, including parents, have defended the teacher, saying firing him would violate his right to free speech.
"He can have his own opinion, just everything's viral these days," local resident Douglas Bradler said.
"If he's on his own personal time, I think he has a right to express himself," Corey Martin added.
"It IS freedom of speech and dissent against the government is what our country was founded on," wrote one Facebook user. "You people call yourself 'patriots' with no idea what the word, or what this country was based on even means. I love this teacher. Real life lessons!!!"
"Sorry, the finger IS protected speech when given as a symbol of dissent against a governmental entity, including police officers," the commenter added. "Giving some random person the finger while driving isn't. My ex sued a county for just such an action in federal court, and won. Courts also can't stop people from demonstrating by blocking traffic etc. Maybe you haven't read anything from the <civilized> 9th circuit, but you really should. As much as I don't like some of the things people do, I respect their right to do it. That's the difference between a real and a fake patriot."