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UH center to incorporate gender tolerance policy


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POSTED: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A planned $38 million expansion of the Campus Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa is the first project that will be reviewed under a new policy that prohibits discrimination based on “;gender identity and expression.”;

The Board of Regents adopted the policy at its June meeting. UH joins more than 260 colleges and universities that have added the category to their policies to prevent harassment and affirm the university's “;commitment to tolerance and respect for gender diversity,”; the university said in a news release.

The university is reviewing plans for the new fitness and recreation center expansion at the Campus Center to make sure it includes “;family-friendly”; or unisex bathrooms and locker rooms, said Brian Minaai, UH vice president for capital improvements.

Other new buildings and renovations will be reviewed to make sure they conform with the policy, he said.

The precise approach has not yet been determined, but could include, in addition to men's rooms and women's rooms, a third, more private facility, perhaps with a diaper changing table.

The UH Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action is also reviewing and coming up with guidelines for unisex facilities in all campus buildings to resolve privacy and safety issues.

The term “;gender identity and expression”; refers to transgender, transsexual or other persons whose gender identity is different from the sex they are born with or whose personal characteristics, dress or behavior do not conform to social norms about gender.

In addition to including “;gender identity and expression”; as a protected category, the board also approved technical changes including 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.”;

Cameron Miyamoto, coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trangender Student Services Office, said the university has been working on the policy for about five years.

It has the support of the UH Commission on the Status of Women, the UH Commission on Disability Access, the UH-Manoa Commission on Diversity and the Council of Senior Student Affairs Officers.

Miyamoto said the board's action is not related to a lawsuit last year by a gay couple who said they were denied family housing.

The suit was settled when the university revised its family housing policy to include domestic partners and domestic partners with children.