A California high school teacher shocked students and faculty when he announced he would be returning from spring break as a woman.
Gary Sconce, a 56-year-old married father, has taught science and multimedia at Yosemite High School for 24 years. He recently told the entire student body that when he returned from spring break, he would go by Karen Adell Scot.
Sconce, who says he has known about his gender preference from an early age, detailed his experience of being a “false, phony male” who used military service and martial arts to mask his feminine side in a March 19 letter home to parents.
“I covered the female inside with hyper-masculine behavior, trying to provide [sic] I was not the woman inside I actually was,” Sconce wrote, according to the New York Daily News. “I will be legally changing my name and after finishing my course of teaching at Yosemite for a while longer, then will retire as a mature woman.”
The award-winning teacher came out to his family as transgender last April. He has been undergoing hormone replacement therapy since then.
Sconce’s transformation has caused a stir in the small town of Oakhurst, Calif., just outside Yosemite National Park. Community member Kathi Bales wrote a letter that was published in a weekly newspaper, telling Sconce to quit his job and urging the community to reject him.
“I see this as an assault on the minds and morals of our children,” Bales wrote. “It blurs the lines of what is right and wrong.”
KFSN says there have been mixed reactions, including from some of Sconce's former students.
Administrators sent a letter to the school's parents notifying them that California law mandates the school not discriminate against Sconce because of his gender identity, NBC News reports.
“The district recognizes that Mr. Sconce’s transition may raise questions among students, parents, guardians and community members,” Yosemite Unified School District Superintendent James Sargent wrote. “Counseling staff will be available to discuss any issue with students.”