Posted For: Willie Wonka
By Olivia Land
A California high school teacher has boldly confessed that she helps students change their gender identity — without their parents’ knowledge.
“My job, which is a public service, is to protect kids,” Olivia Garrison told the New York Times about helping students socially transition at school.
“Sometimes, they need protection from their own parents.”
Social transition describes the process in which a person adopts the name and pronouns that align with their gender identity, rather than the gender they were at birth.
Garrison, who is nonbinary, teaches history at Del Oro High School in Bakersfield.
They have previously posted on TikTok about the decorations in their “queer safe space classroom,” including a bright “Love Wins” flag.
One of Garrison’s former students, Clementine Morales, told the Times about coming out as nonbinary at school while it felt uncomfortable to do so at home.
“I had to look for parental figures in other people who were not my parents,” Morales, now 19, said of the process.
But the issue has become a hot-button issue for parents under President Biden and his administration’s proposed Title IX reforms — which would expand regulations combating sex-based discrimination in schools to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Critics have argued 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 the controversial policy has even outraged liberal parents like Jessica Bradshaw of Southern California.
The mother told the Times that she learned of her 15-year-old’s social transition after reading their preferred name on a worksheet.
“There was never any word from anyone to let us know that on paper, and in the classroom, our daughter was our son,” she said.
“It felt like a parenting stab in the back from the school system. It should have been a decision we made as a family.”
Kern High School District, where Garrison teaches, even boasts a flier on its website that allows students to change their preferred name and gender marker without a parent’s signature.
In addition to name changes and new pronouns, the process can include physical alterations, like wardrobe and hairstyle.
Neither Garrison nor Del Oro High School replied to The Post’s request for a comment.
Dr. Erica Anderson, a psychologist who has helped hundreds of young people transition, is among those fighting the movement.
Anderson, who is transgender, filed an amicus brief in support of parents in a Maryland lawsuit claiming the district’s policy violates their rights, the Times reported.
Maryland — like California and New Jersey — officially advises teachers and administrators not to disclose a student’s social transition to their parents or guardian without permission from the student themselves, according to the publication.
Despite admitting that she balked at siding with the conservative law group representing the parents, she wrote in the brief that transitioning socially is “a major and potentially life-altering decision that requires parental involvement, for many reasons.”
Other groups, however, advocate for 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 that he worries for other gender nonconforming youths whose families are not open to transition.
Alabama is one of the states — along with Virginia and Florida — that adopted legislation barring schools from withholding gender identity information from parents or guardians.
“Not all children in this area have safe spaces at home,” Walker told the outlet.
Expert analyses also indicate that a supported social transition is key for trans youths’ mental health.
One 2021 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that early social transitions indicated better psychological outcomes — but linked unaccepting school environments to higher risks of suicide or suicidal thoughts.
Another study from 2018 aligned parental support during gender transition with higher self-esteem in gender nonconforming individuals.
According to the Times, one-time Massachusetts public school superintendent Todd Gazda argued at a board meeting that concerns over so-called “parental rights” were actually “intolerance and prejudice against LGBTQ individuals.”
“For many of our students, school is their only safe place,” he said.
But the lightning-rod issue extends beyond students.
Earlier this month, a Canadian school board introduced a dress code for teachers after a transgender teacher’s “clownish” prosthetic breasts sparked an uproar.
However, the school has continued to support the teacher, identified as Kayla Lemieux, with one official describing her as “an extremely effective leader.”