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University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents approves amendment to BOR policy on nondiscrimination and affirmative action

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Camaron Miyamoto, (808) 956-9250
LGBTI Student Services Office
Posted: Jun 30, 2009

HONOLULU — Today at its monthly meeting, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents approved amending BOR Bylaws section 1-5, policy on Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action, to prohibit discrimination based on a person‘s "gender identity and expression." By including the new terminology in the BOR policy, UH will be joining over 260 colleges and universities that have added the category to their policies in efforts to prevent harassment and affirm its commitment to tolerance and respect for gender diversity.

The term "gender identity and expression" refers to persons whose gender identity is different from their birth assigned sex or whose personal characteristics, dress, or behavior do not conform to social norms about gender (e.g., persons who are transgender, transsexual or intersex).

In addition to including "gender identity and expression" as a protected category, the BOR also approved technical revisions to the terminology in Section 1-5. The changes include updating the term "handicap" to "disability," changing "veteran status" to "status as a covered veteran," and changing "sexual harassment" to "discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment."

The intent of the terminology change is to update policy language to conform to federal guidelines and is not anticipated to require additional costs. However, the proposed addition of "gender identity and expression" as a category will likely result in several impacts systemwide to create a more welcoming campus environment for those who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI).

The main cost of implementing a gender identity policy is related to modifying certain restrooms, lockers, and showers in order to resolve privacy and safety issues. A review of campus readiness to implement a gender identity policy has already resulted in campuses taking several additional steps to improve the environment and the identification of areas for future efforts.

The policy will also impact future design plans for new facilities and major renovation projects to ensure they include "family friendly" or modern unisex facilities.

The recommendation to change BOR policy was put forth by the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action in consultation with several campus groups. The action is endorsed by the UH Commission on the Status of Women, the UH Commission on Disability Access, the UH Mānoa Commission on Diversity, and the Council of Senior Student Affairs Officers. All of the campuses and unions were also included in the consultation process.

The policy change is effective immediately.

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