Schools prepare to implement new transgender student guidelines

Published: Jun. 7, 2016 at 7:17 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 7, 2016 at 8:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Over the next few months, educators at Hawaii public schools will be getting a lesson on gender identity.

On Tuesday, officials updated Board of Education members on the work to come up with guidelines for addressing the needs of transgender students.

The draft guidance:

  • Makes clear that schools should recognize and respect a student's gender identity.
  • Says students should be able to dress according to their gender identity.
  • Clarifies that schools should grant transgender students access to whichever bathroom or locker room they feel most comfortable in.

The guidelines also say that schools should work to protect all other students' right to privacy, the guidance says.

"If any student, whether transgender or not, desires increased privacy or feels uncomfortable, schools should make every effort to provide the student with reasonable access to an alternative restroom," the guidance says.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, state Department of Education spokeswoman, said the guidelines are meant to provide a foundation for schools.

Brian De Lima, vice Chairman Board of Education, added: "The guidelines state very clearly that every student that requires privacy should be given privacy and that facilities should be available so that every student can feel protected."

The guidance was generally supported by BOE members, but some did express concerns over how much transgender students' parents should know about how they identify at school.

De Lima said the guidelines need to be clearer on parental involvement.

"Students who are under 13 years of age, by state law, parents need to be informed and involved," he said.

But Michael Golojuch Jr., chairman of the LGBT Caucus, said parent involvement should be at each student's discretion.

It's solely theirs," he said. "And I really don't think the DOE or the BOE should be implementing any guidelines that would require outing a trans student to their parents."

The guidelines also weren't clear about transgender students and competitive sports.

The DOE says the guidelines presented Tuesday still must undergo further review. Officials said they plan to be flexible as they move forward.

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