April 28, 2015:
Mark your calendar for Monday, May 4 from 10 to 11 p.m. (EST)! PBS’ Independent Lens will be hosting the national broadcast premiere of Kumu Hina, a documentary by Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson that addresses themes of gender diversity and fluidity, inclusion and cultural empowerment.
Kumu Hina focuses on a transgender teacher in Hawaii named Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, also known as Kumu Hina. Viewers learn about māhū, a Hawaiian term that refers to people who embrace feminine and masculine spirits. Kumu Hina is one of these people; the film describes Hina’s transition from being a timid high school student into a profound teacher and cultural icon. Kumu Hina is also the director of an all-male hula troupe at an inner-city Honolulu school and supports Ho’onani Kamai—a sixth-grade student who occupies “a place in the middle” on the gender spectrum—in becoming the troupe’s student leader.
May 4 also marks the launch of an educational campaign from the creators of Kumu Hina. Hamer and Wilson created a 30-minute educational version of Kumu Hina called A Place in the Middle, distributed for free on PBS LearningMedia. Ho’onani’s inspiring story takes center stage in A Place in the Middle. Viewers can commit to making their schools more inclusive and welcoming by taking a #PledgeofAloha—an expression of love, honor and respect for all. Additional educational resources can be found in the free discussion guide that accompanies A Place in the Middle. (Look for references to the Teaching Tolerance Anti-bias Framework!)
We hope you tune in and watch Kumu Hina on May 4! In the meantime, you can access excerpts from A Place in the Middle in Perspectives for a Diverse America. To find these excerpts, search for the title in the Central Text Anthology.