A history teacher at a California high school has admitted to helping students change their gender identity without their parents’ knowledge.
Olivia Garrison, who is non-binary, told the New York Times that they felt their job as teachers was to “protect kids” — “sometimes from their own parents.”
“It’s my job, a public service, to protect children,” Garrison said. “Sometimes they need protection from their own parents.”
Garrison teaches at Del Oro High School in the Kern High School District (KHSD), which has a form that allows students to change their preferred name and gender marker without a parent’s signature.
The history teacher, who previously posted on TikTok about their “queer safe space classroom,” was one of dozens of educators, government officials and parents the New York Times spoke to about gender transition in schools.
Olivia Garrison, who previously posted on TikTok about their “queer safe space classroom,” has admitted to helping students change their gender identity without parents’ knowledge
Clementine Morales, a former Garrison student who is now 19, told the Times that they came for nonbinary at school when they couldn’t at home.
“I had to look for parental figures in other people who weren’t my parents,” Morales said.
Schools have come under pressure to meet the needs of transgender youth, but dozens of parents whose children have transitioned socially at school told The Times they felt “embarrassed by educators who seemed to think they knew what was best for their children’.
Jessica Bradshaw of Torrance, Calif., told the Times that she learned about her 15-year-old’s social transition after reading their preferred name on a worksheet.
“There was never anything from anyone to let us know that our daughter was our son on paper and in class,” she said, accepting her child’s decision but resenting that the school had made her feel she was a bad parent. .
“It felt like an educational stab in the back of the school system. It should have been a decision we made as a family.”
The student told the Times that his school had given him the space to be himself that he otherwise wouldn’t have.
He said he had tried to come out to his parents before, but they didn’t take it seriously, so he turned to his school for support.
“I wish schools didn’t have to hide it from parents or do it without parental consent, but it can be important,” he said.
“Schools are just trying to do what’s best to keep students safe and comfortable. When you’re trans, you feel like you’re in danger all the time. Even though my parents accepted it, I was still scared and that’s why the school didn’t tell me.’
Garrison teaches at Del Oro High School in the Kern High School District
The district has a form that allows students to change their preferred name and gender without a parent’s signature
The student attends a public school which is one of several where students can transition socially without parental consent.
The social transition may include a change in their name, pronouns, or gender expression.
Social transition guidelines vary between school districts and by state. Some states, including California, New Jersey and Maryland, advise schools not to disclose information about student gender identity without their consent.
But there are several other states with anti-discrimination guidelines that are open to interpretation.
Jeff Walker, a father in Alabama, and another parent of a transgender student, told the Times he is concerned about other gender-nonconforming youth whose families are not open to transition.
“Not all the kids in this area have a safe place at home,” Walker said.
The New York Times also spoke with Dr. Erica Anderson, a psychologist who has helped hundreds of young people transition.
Anderson, who is transgender, filed a letter in support of parents in a Maryland lawsuit alleging that the district’s policies violate their rights, the Times reported.
She wrote that social transition is “an important and potentially life-changing decision that requires parental involvement for many reasons.”