Auckland, 8 September 2020

On Tuesday the Ministry of Education released their ‘refreshed resource Relationships and Sexuality Education’. The Ministry states the document is more “inclusive” and focused on “diversity” than previous resources. However, women’s rights advocates claim that in their attempt to appease the demands of gender ideology lobbyists, the Ministry has neglected its obligations to uphold the Human Rights Act and the Bill of Rights Act.

“The Human Rights Act recognises that for reasons of safety, dignity and privacy, the sexes sometimes need separate facilities and services. For women and girls this is particularly important and the new resource from the Ministry of Education ignores this need, undermining the Human Rights Act” says Ani O’Brien, spokeswoman for women’s rights group Speak Up For Women.

The group says that while there are a number of issues with the resource and the way it discriminates against girls, homosexuals, and religious students, it is this passage which is of most immediate concern:

>>>Many ākonga, including those who are trans, non-binary, or intersex, may feel vulnerable having to change clothes in front of others. They should be able to choose a toilet and changing room that matches their gender identity. Trans girls should be able to use the female toilets if they prefer to. Ideally, schools will have at least one gender-neutral toilet available for ākonga, but trans, non-binary, and intersex ākonga should not be required to use this rather than male or female toilets.<<<

Speak Up For Women points out that this guidance could create situations where 13 year old girls are having to share changing rooms with 18 year old males. They cite findings from overseas that show school girls skip school when they have their period, to avoid changing their sanitary products in unisex facilities.

“New Zealand is a culturally diverse country and for girls from religious backgrounds – for example Muslim students – sharing toilets or changing rooms with a member of the opposite sex is not something their faith allows. This resource is encouraging schools to implement policies that will alienate girls and potentially prevent them from attending school,” says Ms O’Brien.

“The current resource is not fit for purpose. We need to have sensible conversations about how we can accommodate transgender students without undermining the existing rights of girls and religious students. This should not be an ‘either/or’ situation.”

 Speak Up For Women encourages parents to speak to their schools and raise the concerns they have with the new resource.

“Schools must be open to hearing the concerns of parents. We know from the sheer number contacting us that many families feel pressured to stay quiet on this issue and that is very concerning.”

ENDS

Notes to the editor:

  1. Girls in the UK are skipping school to avoid sharing gender neutral toilets: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12274248

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