HSTA’s Human and Civil Rights (HCR) Committee supports and nurtures diversity and equity in our multifaceted community, encourages member engagement in racial and social justice issues to promote non-discriminatory spaces for educators and learners, and supports members’ abilities to stand up for and speak out on behalf of students and their community.

2023–24 HCR Committee roster

Our committee consists of a state chair, two representatives per chapter, and one HSTA-Retired representative. If you are interested in joining our committee and see a vacancy in your chapter, please reach out to your chapter president.

State Chair
Jodi Kunimitsu (Maui)

Marylyn Barbosa

Verona Holder
Lola Ito


Jen Scarborough
SueAnn Thomas

Kit Brizuela
Amber O’Reilly

Daphna Ehrenhalt
Angie Miyashiro

Heather Baraka
Isabelle “Aard” Palmer



Rebecca Kapolei Kiili
Amanda Jimenez


Ric Ornellas
Teddy Sotelo

Sarah Kern
Sheri Abigania


LGBTQ+ Pride resources and interactive virtual classroom

HSTA is proud to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) community. The HSTA Human and Civil Rights (HCR) Committee put together this interactive digital classroom as a comprehensive resource for educators.


LGBTQ+ Pride events

Each year, the HSTA HCR Committee encourages participation in pride events, like the Honolulu Pride Parade from Magic Island to Kapiolani Park. In 2019, members and supporters also wrote messages of support for Hawaii’s LGBTQIA+ students and/or messages that promote inclusive schools and classrooms.


Building menstrual equity in schools

Get an overview of period poverty, an easy-to-follow implementation tool kit, and best practices to ensure menstruating students have access to free period products at your school.


Celebrate Hawaiian Language Month with an introduction to ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

In honor of Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi in February, download lessons of the week and resources that give you a basic understanding of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi and its importance to the place we call home.


Transgender 101 for Educators

Learn to support your students by understanding key terms, the importance of pronouns, the difference between gender identity and sexuality, and Hawaiʻi State Department of Education guidance.


Celebrate Black History Month with HSTA

To celebrate Black History Month in February, we want to empower all educators to initiate discussions about Black Americans in their classrooms, and provide guidance, perspective, and understanding.

Elyse Litvack


Friend of Youth Award

The Friend of Youth Award recognizes an outstanding individual who works to support Hawaii’s youth. Nominees must be involved in a youth-oriented activity outside of their professional duties, dedicate time and service to this cause, and demonstrate significant impact on youth.

Past winners: Nikki-Ann Yee (2022), Guy Shimabukuro (2021), Scot Yamashita (2020), Jason Routon (2018), Faye Like Wallace (2017), Ted Takamiya (2016), Virginia Brautigan Aste (2015), Robin Hermance (2014), Rose Atsuko Ah Sing Yamada (2013), Mervin Dudoit (2012), Penny Martin (2011), Alice Hewett (2010), Peter Rayno Jr. (2009), Alice Ransil (2008), Derek Kurisu (2007), Shiro Takata (2006), Randall Ng (2005), Duke Sevilla (2004), Clara and Joe Mishima (1999), Lyman Medeiros (1998), Marilyn Pollock (1997), Kiyoko Nishikawa and Bert Kakugawa (1996), Takeshi Fujita (1995), Zoreh Furatado and Mary Gomez (1994), Neal and Nadine Morimoto (1993), Frank DeLima (1992), Ted Kimura (1991), Earl Eckart (1990), Ellen Kusano (1989), Kayo Chung and Earl Miyao (1987), Carol Kimura and Robert Lani (1986), Steven Frias (1985).


Pono Award

The Pono Award recognizes an exceptional HSTA member who advocates on social justice issues that impact the lives of students, fellow educators, and the community. Nominees must be principal organizers of campaigns or actions to address social justice issues such as, but not limited to: immigration reform, school-to-prison pipeline, equity in education, LGBTQ bias and issues, English-language learner advocacy, racial profiling, voter suppression and/or rights, and bullying.

The recipient of this award is submitted as HSTA’s nominee to the National Education Association Social Justice Activist of the Year Award, which is presented during NEA’s Conference on Racial and Social Justice in July. (Note: This was postponed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.)

Past winners: Sarah “Mili” Milianta-Laffin (2020), Laverne Moore (2016).



HSTA CARES is an HCR initiative to integrate social and racial justice principles into education to create schools and communities that are safe, inclusive, and equitable​ for all keiki. Our HSTA CARES professional development and training teams are made up of passionate educators from across the state who work with the NEA Center for Racial and Social Justice to develop racial and social justice training specifically for Hawaiʻi educators that reflect Hawaiʻi classrooms and communities. Trainings consist of one-hour workshops and PDE3 courses approved by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education and offered under HSTA’s Professional Development program.

Course 1: Countering Implicit Bias, Microaggressions and Stereotypes in Hawaiʻi Schools

Course 2: In progress


Hawaiʻi’s public education must include honest lessons of racism and oppression, past and present

As educators, we provide our students with the tools, information, and support they need to become strong, independent thinkers who are able to critically examine the world they live in, and understand past and present so they can build a better future.


McKinley High School deserves a name that honors its true spirit, community, legacy

The name glorifies a man who illegally annexed a country against the will of her queen and people, and reflects an indoctrination of Hawaiian students and a movement that obliterated Native Hawaiian identity in favor of American patriotism.

Contact HCR

For more information, please contact HCR Chair Jodi Kunimitsu or reach out to your chapter representative.