BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern High School District Board of Trustees announced its stance on how far teachers can help their students.
The stance wasn’t just about gender identity but encompassed other topics like sexual orientation, abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
A packed room Monday night stuffed with more than 200 people, half of whom were there to talk about the Del Oro High School teacher Olivia Garrison.
Garrison told the New York Times they felt they had to protect gender-transitioning students from their conservative parents.
The room split about 80/20. The majority was against Garrison.
The Kern High School District board meeting saw upset parents, angered community members and even a child make a stance against Olivia Garrison and any teacher who would help a student’s gender transition while leaving the parents in the dark.
“It’s happening all over the nation where teachers are taking it upon themselves to start counseling our students on issues that parents should be handling,” Brandon Holthaus the pastor at Rock Harbor Church said. “You’re an educator you’re not a psychotherapist or any councilor who can handle those kind of things.”
For the first time in more than a week, since 17 News has been asking, KHSD Board President Bryan Batey gave the district’s stance on the issue.
“This board wants to make it clear to our community and those in attendance tonight that parents are the best in the position to counsel their children,” Batey said. “In the event that a Kern High employee feels like a student needs counseling in any issue whether as it’s in this case sexual orientation or gender identity. That employee should refer that student either to a senior counselor or the principal of that site, our teachers are not trained specifically in those issues.”
At one point, the group demanded Garrison should be fired.
“The fact that Ms. Garrison is going behind parents’ backs about gender transitioning should be a termination of her job,” Jocelyn Wonderly a former Kern High student said. “Enforcing her ideologies of leading and guiding minors to change genders is not only harmful but evil.”
Another speaker claimed the Gay-Straight Alliance, which is a group and club at schools in KHSD that many LGBTQ youth see as a refuge, is actually a radical leftist group filled with predators.
“Not only are they involved in grooming but they are involved in overthrowing the cist heterosexual patriarchy,” Holthaus said. “This is a radical leftist group that has made its way in our school district and we want it out.”
Members of the so-called radical GSA attended and spoke at the meeting. Most of them are just kids between 15 to 18 years old.
“People are going up there saying the Gay Straight Alliance is a satanic radical left group. I’m conservative. I’m a Christian. The Gay Straight Alliance is none of those things and if they were I would not be involved believe me,” Sammy Well a senior at Centennial High School said. “A lot of our LGBTQ students don’t feel like they have a home. Nobody should feel discriminated against for being who you are, no matter what you are. No matter what religion, what creed, what race, what sexuality you are.”
Members of the crowd shouted aggressive remarks like, “You’re a fake Christian, He doesn’t love your sin, you’re confused, and sit down.” These remarks aimed towards adults and students…
“Hearing how one-sided that room was definitely anti-queer and anti-trans makes me feel like my voice is very important,” Claire Garza the co-vice president of Gay Straight Alliance for Frontier High School said.
“As it was pointed out earlier I am not a psychotherapist. It’s not easing being a teacher. I’ve been the first person a student has told they’re confused because there isn’t a place for them at church because their religion doesn’t support who they are as a person and I’ve been the first person a student has told they are scared their parents won’t love and accept them for who they are,” A teacher said at the KHSD board meeting.
Olivia Garrison’s friends say Garrison has been receiving death threats for talking with the New York Times and says they didn’t want to speak further.