HONOLULU, Hawaii – The University of Hawaiʻi has “no intention of retreating” from progress made on gender neutral restrooms and other Title IX matters despite the Trump administration’s recent actions, UH president David Lassner said recently.
Speaking to the UH Board of Regents, Lassner shared his response to the news that Trump’s Justice and Education departments recently reversed the Obama administration’s guidance on the federal law, which protects the right of transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.
The White House said the reversal was due to the improper process by which Obama issued his guidance in May 2016, and said it trampled the rights of state and local school districts to establish educational policy.
On Feb. 23, news media hounded Press Secretary Sean Spicer on the new guidance during a White house press briefing.
… I think that we do have to recognize that children do enjoy rights, from anti-bullying statutes that are in almost every state, and that there’s a difference between being compassionate for individuals and children who are struggling with something and wanting to make sure they’re protected, and how it’s being done. And I think that the President has a big heart, as we’ve talked about in a lot of other issues, and there’s a big difference. Personally, he addressed this issue when it came up with respect to one of his properties.
But he also believes that that’s not a federal government issue. It’s an issue left to the states, and it’s an issue that — I mean, there’s a reason in August of last year that the court enjoined this, because it hadn’t followed the law and it hadn’t — the procedure, the comment period and the solicitation of opinions and ideas wasn’t followed. It was jammed down the process.
And so we’re actually following the law on this one, and I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be done.”
UH president Lassner addressed the controversy in his monthly presentation to the regents. The video was recorded by the University.
You may have heard yesterday that the federal government reversed the previous guidance that have been provided to colleges and universities and schools regarding the protection of transgendered individuals and their access to restrooms. Frankly, speculation is also rampant in the higher-ed press about possible lesser emphasis by the federal government on other aspects of title IX compliance as well.
I just want to assure the board that regardless of what the federal government is forcing us to do through their compliance requirements, this is something that UH is committed to. We have done a lot of work over the past three years on title IX and Violence Against Women Act compliance. With continued financial support, we have absolutely no intention of retreating from any of that progress we have made.
We are committed, for our reasons, to equity and safety for all the members of our community.
More specifically, independent of the guidance that has been offered by the last administration that was revoked yesterday, UH was already committed to our LGBTQ+ community on matters of restroom access and more.
We had implemented a preferred name policy last year. I think i had updated you on that. It was something that are LGBTQ+ Commission helped us with. And we’re also in the process now of a policy that ensures access to restrooms based on gender identity and also to the construction of gender neutral restrooms or identification. If there aren’t any available, construction (of gender neutral restrooms) with new projects when we are either doing new or renovated projects.”
The UH Commission on LGBTQ+ Equality is a system-wide commission composed of faculty, staff and students appointed by the President of the University of Hawaiʻi, representing each of the 10 campuses. The LGBTQ+ Commission website says there are Title IX Coordinators for each campus who have the responsibility of coordinating the University’s response efforts at the campus level.
I do want to think we we have a strong and helpful LGBTQ+ Commission at the system level and they provide thoughtful, consistent, and firm pressure on us at all times to keep them in mind and keep their rights in mind.”