(Daily Caller) – More than 200 parents and community officials protested a California high school teacher who admitted to helping students change their gender without their parents’ permission, according to a Kern High School Board meeting.
Olivia Garrison, a Del Oro High School teacher, aids students in changing their gender identity without notifying their parents, according to The New York Times. Parents and community officials called for an investigation into Garrison for infringing on parental rights at the school board meeting on Monday, following the teacher’s comments to the Times.
“I believe that there should be a very deep investigation into how the law was broken here,” Lily Lopez, a Kern High School District parent, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “I think it has to do with a lot of privacy laws that were broken. We’re not gonna stop fighting. We’re not in agreement with it, that’s for sure. We’re not going to stop fighting. I do believe she needs to be reprimanded. She should get fired. I think she stepped over boundaries here.”
The Times published a January article detailing teachers’ decision to tell parents if their child is transitioning genders at school. It is the job of teachers to “protect kids” and allow them to transition without their parents’ knowledge, Garrison said, according to the Times.
“My job, which is a public service, is to protect kids,” Garrison, who is nonbinary, told the Times. “Sometimes, they need protection from their own parents.”
One of Garrison’s former students turned to their teacher and began to transition at school because they did not feel comfortable at home, the Times reported.
“I had to look for parental figures in other people who were not my parents,” the student told the Times.
A student’s transgender status is confidential and only to be shared with whoever the child believes it should be shared with, the Kern High School District’s nondiscrimination/harassment policy states. Parents are not required for a student to set up a gender transitioning plan with school administration.
“If a student has decided to come out to someone at school rather than someone at home, there’s probably something going on at home,” Lance Mack, a transgender student and alumni of the school district, said in defense of Garrison at the board meeting. “Sometimes students just need space to be themselves. Maybe that can lead them to coming out at home later if it’s more about just needing a separate space.”
Brandon Holthaus, senior pastor of Rock Harbor Church, called for an investigation into Garrison and termination at Monday’s meeting.
“That is a violation of parental authority,” Holthaus said at the board meeting. “I understand that [teachers] hear a lot of stuff [and issues from students.] We’re asking them: Punt that please. Punt that to the professionals and do not try to take that on yourself. You’re an educator. You are not a psychotherapist or a counselor that can handle those kinds of things.”
It is not clear if or how the school board plans to investigate Garrison but the board acknowledged that they believe parents deserve to be involved in their children’s lives, according to the school board meeting.
“Your Board of Trustees are aware that one of our schools received national attention regarding comments that were attributed to one of our school employees,” Board President Bryan Batey said at the meeting. “This board wants to make it clear to our community and those in attendance that we strongly feel that parents are in the best position to counsel their children.”
An investigation needs to be opened into Garrison’s actions because teachers do not have the right to act like the child’s parents, Anthony Rodriguez, a Kern High School District parent, told the DCNF.
“100% investigate,” Rodriguez told the DCNF. “The minute I drop my kids off to school, they’re still my kids. If they break an arm or something happens to them, I’m gonna be responsible. So why would [the teacher] take it upon [themselves] to act like a parent and feel like they can take on that role. And when does it stop? If my son breaks his arm, are you going to pay the insurance? It’s only when they want to push their own ideology or their own issues. That’s when they want to take over. They don’t have that right, that’s a moral issue.”
Holthaus and Kern High School District declined to comment and Garrison did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.