Republican leader criticized for comments on Hawaiian leader

Exclusive: Pono Choices Controversy Update
Published: Jan. 9, 2014 at 11:53 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2014 at 12:40 AM HST
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There's more controversy over the state's Pono Choices sex education program. This time it involves one of the controversial curriculum's critics.

Tito Montes, president of the Hawaii Republican Assembly, is under fire for calling a respected Hawaiian leader and cultural practicioner a "transvestite" and a "drag queen."

Hina Wong-Kalu -- who considers herself a transgendered female -- says the name calling borders on hate speech.

"To utilize words transvestite and drag queen in any political debate is taking a cheap shot," Wong-Kalu said.

Montes remarks were part of his criticism of the state's Pono Choices sex education program. Montes and other Republicans say the program is too graphic for middle school students and is not medically accurate.

Wong-Kalu appeared in Pono Choices skit about HIV risk and here's how Montes described her:

"'Kumu' is the video short story of a transvestite drag queen who wears lipstick, eye liner, a dress, a padded bra and earrings," Montes wrote.

Wong-Kalu, who is the chair of the Oahu Burial Council, shot back:

"A transvestite is someone who puts on clothes, a man who puts on women's clothes in the middle of the night for once in a while but this is not temporary for me. This is an everyday element of my life," she said.

The latest controversy over the Pono Choices program comes as state Rep. Robert McDermott called on the Department of Education to pull the curriculum or revise it.

He said the program omits a reference to anal sex without a condom in its descriptions of low-risk and high-risk sex. He said it also incorrectly describes the anus as a genital.

"My objection to this is that it's medically inaccurate," he said.

The education department has already put the curriculum on hold after McDermott raised questions of its accuracy but is now going ahead with the program.

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