Members of the Legislative Committee on Culture and Justice gathered yesterday at the Guam Congress Building in Hagåtña for a public hearing on a bill that would offer protection against discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identification and gender expression.
Bill 164-34 (LS) was introduced by Sen. Joe San Agustin and Speaker Benjamin Cruz.
San Agustin said his inspiration for the bill was prompted during his time on the board of education. He retold the story of a high school student, who had brought his personal experience of discrimination to the board seeking reimbursement from the school because he had arrived at prom dressed as a female and was denied attendance. The student asked if there was any policy prohibiting what he had done, but discovered there was none.
San Agustin then proceeded to tell the story of an individual, who received a high rating for a job application, but was denied the job opportunity after dressing differently than the sex stated on their driver's license during the job interview.
There to testify in support of the bill were Ron McNinch, Lasia Casil and Scarlett Dixon.
McNinch submitted a draft of testimony as an individual, but said he was influenced by his role as a University of Guam faculty member and UOG senate leader, and by his position on the Guam Department of Education board.
Because there are around 40,000 students in Guam's educational system, McNinch said, he would like to ensure that policies balance the interests of all the students. McNinch believes the discrimination issue should be further addressed at the policy level within institutions.
He also suggested the development of a strategy that doesn't rely on the courts when it comes to addressing civil rights policies. He believes a type of "referee" should be designated – perhaps at the attorney general's office – to make immediate civil rights decisions. Read more via Post Guam