BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — LGBTQ+ concerns in Kern County schools is getting renewed attention after the New York Times reported a Kern High School District teacher helped students socially transition at school without their parent’s knowledge.
The report notes teachers and staff at schools in California are not required to disclose information about a student’s gender identity without the student’s consent, leading to questions about policies at KHSD.
We reached out to KHSD multiple times asking for information on the district’s policy but did not hear back.
The Times report specifically points out KHSD Del Oro High School teacher Olivia Garrison, who is nonbinary, and told the Times they have helped students socially transition at school, saying “My job, which is a public service, is to protect kids … sometimes they need protection from their own parents.”
We reached out to Garrison but did not hear back.
Kern County 3rd District Supervisor and former KHSD board member Jeff Flores pointed out the subject of LGBTQ+ students in school is far from new territory for KHSD, with many parents bringing up concerns, such as which bathroom transgender students use, at board meetings.
“This topic came up frequently when I was on the board. Matter of fact, it came up almost every board meeting, almost every closed session,” Flores said.
The district’s website lists resources for LGBTQ+ students and a proclamation for equal access and opportunities but does not outline any procedures if a student confides in a teacher or staff member.
The district has a form on its website allowing students to change their preferred pronouns, but the form has a spot requesting the signature of a parent or legal guardian.
However, the California Department of Education guidelines, which govern all California public schools, says minors have a right to privacy under Article I of the California constitution, which includes gender identity. The rules go on to say “Disclosing that a student is transgender without the student’s permission … may violate the student’s right to privacy.”
17 News also reached out to Del Oro High School and did not hear back.