by Andrew Walden
(originally published November, 2006. Republished in honor of Mr Kim Coco Iwamoto's plan to implement an anti-bullying policy based on the following....)
As the “politically correct” celebration of transsexual lawyer Kim Coco Iwamoto’s “historic” election to the Hawai`i State Board of Education (BOE) winds down and the hard work of guiding Hawai`i’s troubled single statewide school district begins, disturbing questions are emerging about Iwamoto’s intentions. Although Iwamoto did not respond to a request for an interview, his public statements indicate he is already using the issue of school bullying in an attempt to create a culture in Hawai`i Schools where gays and transsexuals are lionized as icons and heroes while the military is denigrated and students inclined to choose a military career are humiliated. Parental rights could be secondary to transsexual or gay activists’ claim on a child. Iwamoto and his allies are already working to advance this agenda based on testimony before several Board meetings this spring and summer.
Iwamoto’s efforts come sheathed in a veneer of comforting bureaucratic edu-speak. The BOE minutes May 30 read: “Ms. Kim Coco Iwamoto testified as a foster parent of LBGT students. Ms. Iwamoto stated that the issue of harassment should be looked at from a social service standpoint and be used as an educational opportunity.” Testifying before the BOE Committee on School Safety on July 31, Iwamoto complained that after a bullying incident, “There was no mention of any reeducation or teaching to the incident on the part of the school.” Writing to the National Association of Social Workers in a response to their candidate questionnaire, Iwamoto said: “I strongly advocate for social workers at every level of the DOE. There should be at least one social worker in every school. In addition, social workers should be involved in the policy making process of the BOE, especially as it addresses issues of bullying, harassment and discrimination.”
These statements seem reasonable on the surface. But what is the nature of this “reeducation” and “social service”? Testifying with Iwamoto May 18 was longtime associate Robin Nussbaum of the American Friends Service Committee. According to the minutes, “…Nussbaum testified as the program coordinator for the Queers for Justice Program at the American Friends Service Committee and the facilitator of the Rainbow Revolutionaries Youth Group. Ms. Nussbaum stated the harassment of students at a certain high school still continues. Ms. Nussbaum asked the Department to issue a statement to the principals condemning harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LBGT) students and supporting the creation of the Gay-Straight Alliances in schools.”
It is well known that school-age bullies often use various anti-gay slurs against their victims. Overwhelmingly their victims are not gay, much less transsexual. School bullying is being used as a handy excuse to quietly interject a radical gay and transsexual agenda into an atmosphere where many children are not yet sexually mature and almost all children are not legally independent of their parents. Those parents have a right to know what this agenda is and to determine what they want their children exposed to.
How many gay children are in Hawai`i high schools? There are no accurate numbers. The New York City Public School System has a High School just for gay students. Operating since 1979, Harvey Milk High School (HMHS) was expanded in 2003 and now serves just over 100 students—0.01% of New York public schools’ one million students. Gay advocates claim that HMHS serves only 1.7% of the total gay students. If this figure is accurate, only 0.58% --about 1/200th--of New York students are gay, lesbian or transgender.
Are gay students targeted by bullies more than non-gay students? On Nussbaum’s AFSC website she interviews three students two of whom claim to be gay; the third is identified as, “heterosexual until further notice”. (Why does this student feel obligated to give ‘further notice’?) The three are identified by their pseudonyms: “Evilest Evil Bunny”, “Perpetual Bubble” and “Rainbow Fairy”. None of them describe incidents of harassment they personally experienced; instead the interview focuses on opposing any US military presence in Hawai`i schools.
When not busy with transsexual issues, Iwamoto works to stop US spying on al-Qaeda. Iwamoto is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Hawaiian Telcom as a result of media disclosure that the US is spying on overseas phone calls involving suspected al-Qaeda terrorists. Iwamoto has no end of opprobrium for Christian fundamentalists but is eager to give Islamic fundamentalists all the privacy they need. Under Islamic law, gays are subject to death by stoning.
Iwamoto is also a Board member of the extreme left Hawai`i People’s Fund, a non-profit which doles out money to left-wing activist groups including “Hui Pu”, a group led by Hawaii secessionist Ikaika Hussey which attacked a High School band from Honolulu’s Kalani High School while physically disrupting Hawaii’s Statehood Day Celebration in August, 2006. Does that count as “school bullying”?
Several students working with Iwamoto and Nussbaum testified at a May 18, 2006 BOE meeting, four of whom identified themselves as being gay or lesbian. Some complained a fight broke out when the Gay-Straight-Alliance (GSA), a student club backed by Iwamoto and Nussbaum held a “National Day of Silence” protest on April 26, 2006 at Honolulu’s Kalaheo High School. Another claimed that anti-gay graffiti was not painted over at her school. Several claimed that anti-gay slurs are heard on a daily basis. Another complained that an alleged transgender high school student was required to change in the janitor’s closet for PE class—instead of the boys or girls locker room. Is the DOE being asked to allow male-to-female “transgender students” into the girls’ locker room or restroom?
Finally Nussbaum gets to the point--demanding the BOE sanction the formation of GSAs at all DOE high schools. GSA members would be made into a politically correct, protected class of students about whom the concern of the entire DOE is focused. Instead of doing something to help the victims of bullying stand up for themselves, or to teach the bullies not to pick on others, if bullies call a child ‘faggot’ or ‘homo’ the school’s response will be to tell the victim: “Join the GSA. It’s OK to be gay”. To those very few actual gay students the message is: Make your sexuality your existence. Students planning to join the military will be derided and humiliated. Under the Solomon Amendment, recently upheld by the US Supreme Court, schools which refuse entry to military recruiters may be denied federal funding.
Iwamoto’s agenda goes beyond the schools and reaches into the home. At a May 18 BOE meeting, Iwamoto presented written testimony which seems to imply children should be taken from the care of “homophobic” or “transphobic” parents. Coming about the time Iwamoto was filing papers to run for the Oahu BOE seat, Iwamoto’s testimony reads: “I am writing to you today as a licensed foster parent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. Many of my foster children have come to me after being removed from homes that were abusively homophobic and transphobic.”
It is not clear how Iwamoto (or the State) defines a “transphobic” or “homophobic” parent and under what conditions Iwamoto believes such parents should have their “transgender youth” taken away from them by the State. Is a “transphobic” parent one that opposes his son’s desire for sex-change surgery? Is that to be grounds for the state to remove your child?
The Honolulu Advertiser’s September 13 endorsement of Iwamoto reads: “Kim Coco Iwamoto is an attorney and civil rights activist who has advocated before the board over the past year on behalf of youth safety issues in our schools. She’s (sic) also been a foster parent. Iwamoto rightly believes parents and communities can make a difference in educating Hawai`i’s students.” Somehow they neglected to mention “she” was once a “he”. In fact both the Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin dropped all mention of Iwamoto’s sex-change surgery from news coverage for the six months leading up to Election Day, 2006. How does this compare to the treatment of other politicians personal lives? Iwamoto, who complains of prejudice, is actually being held to a lesser standard. Iwamoto is advantaged, not disadvantaged.
Iwamoto campaign literature listed his role as Board Secretary of “Kulia Na Mamo”, which apparently voters were supposed to know is a “mahuwahine” transgender group. Even the word “mahuwahine” is an invention of political correctness which does not exist in the Hawaiian language, although “mahu” refers to homosexuality. On its website Kulia Na Mamo explains, “mahuwahine have maintained a subculture of survival through welfare/SSI supplemented by hustling, drag entertainment, small jobs and care giving for children and the elderly.”
Normally any politician associated with an organization whose members are involved in “hustling” would certainly be subject to scrutiny, more so if the school board were in question. Not Kim Coco Iwamoto.
The description of Iwamoto as “an attorney and civil rights activist” comes from his well-publicized and successful three year campaign to require Hawai`i hotels to allow cross-dressing and transsexual patrons in their rooms. In a May 2, 2006 letter published in the Honolulu Advertiser, Iwamoto explains stands up for: “The gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, heterosexuals, intersexed and transgender people who travel from around the world to come to our Islands….”
House Bill 1233 was enacted into law without the Governor’s signature as Act 76 on May 2, 2006. Sixteen days later Iwamoto testified before the BOE on school bullying. Four months later, hotel workers union “Unite Here Local 5” endorsed Iwamoto for school board.
Hamstrung with instructions to avoid all “phobias”, when will teachers find time to teach reading, writing and arithmetic? In Hawai`i’s worst-in-the-nation public schools, they already don’t.