HSTA commends DOE for transgender student guidelines

HSTA Tuesday applauded the Department of Education for coming up with guidelines that take effect next school year to protect the rights and address the needs of transgender students.


The DOE’s draft guidance makes clear that schools should recognize and respect students’ gender identities and grant them access to whichever restroom or locker room they feel most comfortable using. The draft guidelines also said students should be able to dress according to their gender identity and schools should address transgender students by their preferred name and pronoun, regardless of their legal name and gender.


We commend the DOE and the BOE for setting forth, in state policy, an agenda that recognizes gender diversity throughout Hawaii’s public school system,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee in testimony before the Board of Education Tuesday. “Our schools must be welcoming for all keiki, regardless of their race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation or gender identity.”


Too often, transgender and non-conforming students face difficulties that impair learning and academic progress, Rosenlee said. According to a national survey by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, 75 percent of transgender youth feel unsafe at school nationwide. Transgender students overall have lower grade point averages, are more likely to miss school because of safety concerns and report a lack of desire to continue educational advancement.


Last month, President Barack Obama sent a letter to all schools nationwide mandating equal treatment for transgender students. In announcing the directive, Attorney General Loretta Lynch urged the public to “summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion and open-mindedness” in extending the promise of education to all America’s young people.


“As teachers, we must embrace Obama’s call for inclusivity by confronting ignorance with information,” Rosenlee said.