Parents at an Inland Empire high school are raising concerns after they say they were left in the dark about a teacher’s decision to pursue gender reassignment, although many say they are supportive of her choice.
The teacher, Amanda Swager, told NBC4 it wasn't really a secret that she was slowly transitioning to into a woman, and asked parents to not be angry with the school district.
Students said they have noticed that over the last year that a male chemistry teacher at Chino High School was slowly transitioning to female.
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"He would have heels under his desk, and people would be like ‘Why do you have heels?’" said Viviana Vasquez. "I was kind of shocked, but not really because it kind of felt like he was going toward that."
Viviana said school officials did not explain to her what was going on, leaving her and many other students uncertain on how to understand what was happening. They were especially surprised last week, when she said Swager starting dressing as a woman and calling herself Amanda.
"In the end it's his choice. It's his life, but they should have at least said something about it so we could have known,” Vasquez said.
That is exactly why some parents are outraged.
"On a Friday he was a man, on Monday he was woman," one parent said.
Some parents said they fully support the teacher's gender transition, but they also believe the school district should have notified them so that they could talk to their kids about it.
"This probably brought or is going to bring disruption in the classroom because all these questions need to be answered,” said one parent, who identified himself as Rusty. “They're going to want to know why did the teacher did what he did."
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Chino Valley Unified School District said they couldn't comment because it’s a personal and private matter for the teacher.
An advocate for the LGBTQ community reinforced the privacy issue.
"The more support they have from friends loved ones and co-workers, the easier it's going to be for them to live in the world,” said Porter Gilberg, executive director of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach. “And be seen in the world like they want to be seen."
Swager said she feels that overall most colleagues have been supportive of her choice.
"I've got nothing but overwhelming support from the school district, the faculty here," she said.
Swager also told NBC4 it was her decision to notify only students in her class and some parents about her change, but not all students and parents.
"We decided as a district, as a faculty, that it would do more harm than good to do a mass notification," Swager said. "Instead do individual notifications in classrooms where they knew what to expect."
She said she has heard the some churches in the area have been critical of what is happening, but she said it won't affect her drive to be who she is and to continue to be a good teacher.
One parent said he doesn’t think Swager's transition is an issue at all.
"Live and let live,” said the parent, Bruce. “That's how I like to raise my kids and show I feel they should live."