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Kamehameha Schools Maui Head of School: Schools were informed of transgender student-athlete

Kamehameha Schools Maui Head of School Dr. Scott Parker says that his school notified all other Maui Interscholastic League schools that participate in girls volleyball earlier this month that the Warriors have a transgender student-athlete on their team.

In an emailed response to questions from The Maui News last week, Parker also said the school has declined a request from The Maui News to talk to the student-athlete “at this time.”

Concerns over safety and competitive fairness have been raised by several MIL coaches and parents, however Parker emphasized that the school is working on supporting the student-athlete, whom The Maui News has chosen not to identify, from all angles.

“At our core, we believe that safe, supportive, and welcoming schools play a pivotal role in ensuring students are engaged in learning and that nothing hinders their ability to achieve the best in the classroom,” Parker wrote in his email. “We are dedicated to the goal of providing a safe space for all students to express their identity authentically and supporting all students’ emotional and mental health. We believe this is the right thing to do and we support our student. We’ve been careful to work with the family and our student; it’s not something any of us has taken lightly. Our hope is for a competitive season for our team and all of our players.”

He also said that his school did not play the student-athlete in the MIL opener last week against Baldwin, a match that the Warriors swept, because it had not been made clear by the league if the player had been deemed to be eligible to play.

“Because we did not get a definitive position from the MIL in time for the game, in an abundance of caution, we chose not to play the student,” Parker said. “We were very surprised and disappointed to learn that the MIL has no policy or rules that address the rights of transgender students to participate in MIL athletics, unlike the HHSAA and other leagues.

“For the sake of the students, we hope that the MIL will act quickly to fill that gap and support transgender student participation. In the meantime, because the MIL rules do not treat transgender students as ineligible to play, we stand by our student’s right to participate in future MIL girls’ varsity volleyball games.”

The student did play in a three-set win over Maui High on Tuesday.

A joint meeting of MIL athletic directors and principals is scheduled for Monday — a source familiar with the schedule said the matter is likely to be discussed at the meeting and MIL lawyer Paul Ueoka will be in attendance.

The source also confirmed that KSM did notify the league that it had a transgender student-athlete playing girls volleyball at an ADs meeting in early August, backing up what Parker said in his email.

Kamehameha Schools policy regarding transgender students is developing on campuses across the state, according to Parker.

“Ensuring that transgender students are supported in schools has been an emerging topic throughout the nation and in schools throughout Hawai’i,” Parker wrote. “Kamehameha Schools affirms its support of transgender students in our learning community and Kamehameha Schools Maui, Kea’au and Kapalama are working closely together in a manner that unifies our commitment to the E Ola! Learner Outcomes and to all students who call our campuses home.”

Parker said that the KSM policy on what gender students are considered can change with the student’s stated gender, although it may not match what is on official school records.

“At this time our official school records list all students by their legal name and assigned sex at birth,” Parker wrote. “Similar to HI DOE policy, we do not require a student to have a medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment threshold to have his or her sincerely held gender identity recognized and respected. We honor transgender students on unofficial records by a name and pronoun that correspond to their sincerely held gender identity.”

KSM has plans in place to make accommodations to transgender students’ needs in a way that can develop over time.

“KS Maui recognizes that each student’s journey is different. Our process begins with a meeting between student and counselors/administrators. Understanding that students do not announce they are transgender on a whim, we expect that these conversations will take place over time and our support will continue throughout,” Parker wrote. “Taking a team-based approach allows us to thoughtfully manage the process of addressing our student’s and family’s needs. A support plan is created collaboratively between school leaders, counselors, the student, and their family to address a variety of issues they may face at school. Once the support plan is in place, KS Maui will recognize a transgender student and provide access to facilities, programs, and supports based on that students identified gender. KS Maui has supports in place for all students and we encourage students and families to seek out support from their school counselor and/or administrator.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.