Olivia Garrison, who is non-binary, said New York Times that they felt it was their job as teachers to “protect children” – “sometimes from their own parents”.
“My job, which is public service, is to protect children,” Garrison said. “Sometimes they need the protection of their own parents.”
Garrison teaches at Del Oro Middle School in the Kern High School District (KHSD), which has a form that allows students to change their name and gender marker without a parent’s signature.
The history teacher, who previously posted on TikTok about their “surprisingly 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 tweeted about their ‘space safe classroom’, has admitted to helping students change their gender identity without their parents’ knowledge
Clementina Morales, a former student of Garrison’s, now 19, told the Times that they came out as non-binary at school when they couldn’t at home.
“I had to look for father figures in other people who weren’t my parents,” Morales said.
Schools are under pressure to meet the needs of transgender youngsters, but dozens of parents whose children have switched to welfare schools told The Times they felt “villainized by educators who seem to think they know what’s best for their children.”
Jessica Bradshaw of Torrance, Calif., told the Times she learned about her 15-year-old’s social transition after reading their preferred name on a worksheet.
“On paper and in the classroom, our daughter was our son,” she said, agreeing with her child’s decision but resentful that the school made her feel like a bad parent. .
“It felt like a stab in the back from the school system. It should have been a decision we made as a family.”
The student told the Times that his school gave him the space to be himself that he lacked.
He said he had tried to come out with his parents before, but they didn’t take it seriously, so he turned to the school for support.
“I wish schools wouldn’t hide it from parents or do it without parental permission, but it can be important,” he said.
“Schools are just trying to do everything they can to keep students safe and comfortable. When you’re trans, you feel like you’re in danger all the time. Even though my parents agreed, I was still scared, so I didn’t tell them at school.”
Garrison teaches at Del Oro High School in the Kern High School District
The district has a form that allows students to change their desired name and gender without a parent’s signature
The student attends a public school that is one of many that allow students to socialize without parental permission.
Social transition may include changing their name, pronouns, or gender expression.
Social transition guidelines vary among school districts and states. Some states, including California, New Jersey and Maryland, advise schools not to release information about students’ gender identity without their permission.
But there are several other states with anti-discrimination guidelines that can be interpreted.
Jeff Walker, an Alabama parent and another parent of a transgender student, told the Times that he worries about other gender-nonconforming youth whose families aren’t open to transitioning.
“Not all kids in this area have safe places at home,” Walker said.
The New York Times also spoke with Dr. Erika Anderson, a psychologist who has helped hundreds of young people get to the next level.
Anderson, who is transgender, filed in support of the parents in the Maryland lawsuit, claiming the district’s policy violated 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.”