Hawaii schools seek to develop transgender locker room policy fo - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii schools seek to develop transgender locker room policy following national ruling

Public schools in Hawaii could be breaking the law if they don't allow transgender students to use the locker room and restroom with which they identify. 

This week, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights said schools must give those students full access -- or risk losing funding. The agency is Title IX to back them up. The federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally-funded education program or activity.

Camaron Miyamoto, director of LGBT Student Services at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said the ruling is a good thing for students.

"I'm encouraged that this administration and the Department of Education at the national level is taking this seriously," he said.

The group has a data base of close to 2200.  He says it's essential for gender non-conforming youth not to be singled out.

"I know too many folks who didn't feel affirmed and therefore don't finish successfully in their school," Miyamoto said.

Critics, though, say allowing transgender students full access to locker rooms isn't fair to the opposite sex who would be in a state of undress in front of them.

State Department of Education spokesperson said the public school system does not have a transgender policy, but is working to create one.

Officials say there is no record of how many transgender students attend public school here in Hawaii and the issue of locker room access hasn't come up. However, for restrooms "accommodations have been made for individual students on a case by case basis," said DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz.

Kim Coco Iwamoto was twice elected to the Hawaii Board of Education as an openly transgender candidate, and said it's vital that Hawaii work to ensure transgender students have adequate access to bathroom and locker room facilities.

"Policymakers must ignore the unsubstantiated, terroristic, fear-mongering and focus on the facts and data available," Iwamoto said.

"Twelve other states have already enacted laws ensuring transgender students have equal access to all educational opportunities. This past June, Media Matters for America contacted officials at the largest school districts in these 12 states and not a single one reported 'any incidences of harassment or inappropriate behavior' as a result of 'allowing transgender students to access facilities they're comfortable with.'"

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