FAQs about RSE in schools
Are schools required to teach about relationships and sexuality?
Yes, but HOW schools teach the subject is decided by each school.
Do schools have to follow the Relationships and Sexuality Education Guidelines?
No. These are guidelines only - schools can choose to teach the topic in their own way. Here is the Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, in Parliament on 15 August 2023, confirming that schools can develop their own RSE curriculum content.
Do parents have any say in what is taught?
Yes. By law, schools must consult with their community every two years to decide the content of their RSE. More information about what is a meaningful consultation is here. A case study of a successful primary school consultation is here.
Can parents withdraw their children from RSE lessons?
Can parents speak at a Board of Trustees meeting?
Yes. Advice on how to go about that is here.
Should the school have written policies about RSE and gender practices?
Yes. A list of things BOTs should consider and questions to ask them is here.
Are all teachers, principals and BOTs in favour of the MOE guidelines for RSE?
No. There is a general lack of knowledge, amongst teachers as well as parents, about the detail in the RSE curriculum. While some teachers (and parents) do agree with gender identity beliefs, many are alarmed by the ideas being promoted but are fearful of losing their jobs if they speak against the RSE guidelines or question social transitioning at school. Principals and BOTs are sometimes waiting for parents to speak up so that they have evidence that this teaching is not wanted by their community.
You will achieve more if you treat teachers, principals, and BOTs as allies rather than adversaries, and work together to create an RSE curriculum that everyone can support.
Can schools transition my child behind my back?
Unhappily, yes. This has happened to parents in New Zealand. (See our testimonials.) The Ministry of Education endorses the practice of hiding changed pronouns in its guide Supporting LGBTQIA Students.
RGE has received legal advice that it is entirely dependent on the principal's opinion whether or not parents will be informed.
As you cannot be certain that you will be made aware of your child’s social transition at school, it is imperative that you become fully aware of what is being taught there regarding gender identity and which rainbow organisations or clubs the school hosts. Knowing what beliefs are being presented to your child as facts is the first step towards countering this damaging ideology.
Can schools take my child to get a binder or puberty blockers without my permission?
Possibly. (See previous answer above.) RGE has heard of schools discussing binders, puberty blockers, and cross sex hormones with secondary students but we have not had reports of these things being supplied via schools, possibly because they are easy to get elsewhere. Information about how to access these items is readily available from rainbow lobby groups like InsideOUT, Rainbow Youth, or Gender Minorities.