A California high school teacher has boldly confessed that she helps students change their gender identity, unbeknownst to their parents.
“My job, which is a public service, is to protect children,” Olivia Garrison told The New York Times of helping students transition socially in school.
“Sometimes they need the protection of their own parents.”
Social transition describes the process by which a person adopts the name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity, rather than the gender they were at birth.
Garrison, who is nonbinary, teaches history at Del Oro High School in Loomis, Greater Sacramento.
They have already posted decorations for their “queer safe space classroom” on TikTok, including a lighted “Love Wins” flag.
One of Garrison’s former students, Clementine Morales, told The Times that she was non-binary at school when she felt uncomfortable doing so at home.
“I had to look for parental figures in other people who weren’t my parents,” Morales, now 19, said of the process.
But the issue has become a hot topic for parents under President Biden and his administration’s proposed Title IX reforms — which would expand regulations tackling gender discrimination in schools to include sexual orientation and gender. gender identity.
Critics have argued that the reforms could overhaul the definition of gender in schools and be used as a weapon to keep parents in the dark.
One of the realities of controversial politics has even outraged liberal parents like Southern California’s Jessica Bradshaw.
The mother told The Times she learned about her 15-year-old’s social transition after reading her favorite name on a worksheet.
“There was never a word from anyone to let us know on paper, and in the classroom our daughter was our son,” she said.
“It was like a parental stab in the back of the school system. It should have been a decision we made as a family.
The Kern School District, where Garrison teaches, even offers a flyer on its website that allows students to change their preferred name and gender marker without a parent’s signature.
According to the University of California San Francisco Transgender Roadmap, social transition is a key step for gender non-conforming people.
In addition to name changes and new pronouns, the process may include physical modifications, such as wardrobe and hairstyle.
Neither Garrison nor Del Oro High School responded to the Post’s request for comment.
Dr. Erica Anderson, a psychologist who has helped hundreds of young people make the transition, is among those fighting the movement.
Anderson, who is transgender, filed an amicus brief in support of the parents in a Maryland lawsuit claiming the district’s policy violates their rights, The Times reported.
Maryland — like California and New Jersey — formally advises teachers and administrators not to disclose a student’s social transition to their parent or guardian without the student’s own permission, according to the publication.
Although she admits she has been reluctant to side with the conservative law group representing parents, she wrote in the memoir that social transition is “a major and potentially life-altering decision that requires the involvement of parents, for many reasons”.
Other groups, however, advocate the importance of a young person’s autonomy to transition safely and privately without risking the consequences of coming out to an unsupportive family.
John Walker, the father of a transgender woman, told The Times he worries about other gender non-conforming young people whose families aren’t open to transitioning.
Alabama is one of the states – along with Virginia and Florida – that has passed a law prohibiting schools from withholding information about the gender identity of parents or guardians.
“Not all children in this area have safe spaces at home,” Walker told the outlet.
Expert analysis also indicates that a sustained social transition is essential for the mental health of trans youth.
A 2021 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that early social transitions indicated better psychological outcomes – but linked unacceptable school environments with higher risks of suicide or suicidal thoughts.
Another 2018 study aligned parental support during gender transition to higher self-esteem in gender non-conforming individuals.
According to The Times, former Massachusetts Public School superintendent Todd Gazda argued at a board meeting that concerns about so-called “parental rights” were actually “the intolerance and prejudice against LGBTQ people”.
“For many of our students, school is their only safe place,” he said.
But the issue of the lightning rod extends beyond the students.
Earlier this month, a Canadian school board introduced a dress code for teachers after a transgender teacher’s “clown” prosthetic breasts sparked an outcry.
However, the school continued to support the teacher, identified as Kayla Lemieux, with one official describing her as “an extremely effective leader”.