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Ministry Guide promotes body dissociation

The Relationship and Sexuality Education Guide (RSE Guide) for teachers, school leaders, and boards of trustees, produced by the New Zealand Ministry of Education and published in September 2020, not only accepts but actively promotes the ideas of gender identity and gender diversity and encourages schools to focus on being a safe place for lgbtqi+ students.

The authors of the guide reveal themselves to be totally captured by gender ideology, and the guide promulgates this ideology at every point. In this regard, it is a highly politicised document that is pushing an agenda with which the majority of the population is unfamiliar and for which there is no evidential basis.

There is no recognition in the guide that there is a strongly critical international movement which completely rejects gender ideology. This movement includes academics, psychotherapists, social workers, scientists, doctors, teachers, parents, people who identify as transgender, and detransitioners.

They all reject

  • the notion that it is possible to change sex

  • the idea that gender identity is real

  • the language that says biological sex is “assigned” at birth

  • the idea that there is a male brain and a female brain

  • state schools promoting a belief system as if it is fact

  • state schools forcing staff and students to acknowledge and affirm people’s self-identification of gender

  • the deception involved in assisting school age children to socially transition and to keep this secret from their families

  • the “affirm only” approach which leaves no room to encourage a child to explore their gender expression and any confusion they may feel when their feelings and preferred behaviour do not fit with sex role stereotypes

  • outdated sex role stereotypes being used to encourage children to believe that they may have been born into the wrong body

  • giving primacy to a concept (gender) over a reality (biological sex)

  • children being set on a path of surgical intervention and lifelong dependence on pharmaceuticals before they are legally old enough to understand the consequences

  • the proposition that ‘social transition’ is harmless and in a child’s best interests

  • that there is ever a case for suggesting that permanently changing and damaging a healthy body is an acceptable response to any form of mental and emotional distress

  • that it is ever acceptable to lie to a child and pretend that they are something they are not.

Teaching gender identity across the curriculum

The RSE guide encourages the teaching of gender ideology as fact from Year 1. Five year olds are to be taught to “Understand the relationship between gender, identity and wellbeing” and the concept of ‘gender identity’ and that people can change their sex is reinforced every single year thereafter. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 30)

Level 2: Akonga can show that they: Are able to identify gender stereotypes, understand the difference between sex and gender, and know that there are diverse gender and sexual identities in society. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 31)

Level 3: Akonga can show that they: Understand how communities develop and use inclusive practices to support gender and sexual diversity. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 32)

Level 4: Akonga can show that they: Know about pubertal change (including hormonal changes, menstruation, body development, and the development of gender identities), and about how pubertal change relates to social norms around gender and sexuality; and can make plans to support their own wellbeing and that of others. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 33)

Level 5: Akonga can show that they: Know about a range of cultural approaches to issues of gender and sexuality and how these relate to holistic understandings of wellbeing, eg, in terms of: varying perspectives on contraception and reproduction for different people, such as teens, heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, and single parents or cultural, generational, and personal values related to gender and sexual identities. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 9-13 Pg 36)

Level 6: Akonga can show that they: Are able to examine how gender and sexual identities can shift in different contexts and over time, and understand how these identities can be affected by relationships, family, media, popular culture, religion, spirituality, and youth cultures. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 9-13 Pg 37)

Level 7: Akonga can show that they: Understand how sex, gender, and sexuality might change across the lifespan (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 9-13 Pg 38)

Schools are prompted to adhere to gender beliefs in everyday practices:

  • Programmes should acknowledge gender and sexual diversity and make sure that a range of identities is visible in resources.

  • Ākonga should be addressed by their preferred name and pronouns.

  • Teachers can reflect on and change exclusionary practices such as lining up in girls’ and boys’ lines, requiring students to place bags in girls’ or boys’ categories, or organising class groups according to gender binaries. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 36)

Further, the RSE Guide recommends embedding the concept of gender into all areas of the curriculum:

While RSE concepts and content will be specifically taught in health education and supported in physical education, there are many opportunities for RSE across the New Zealand Curriculum. (Examples are given of how to do this in physical education, English, science, technology, social sciences, the arts, languages, and mathematics and statistics.) (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 28-29)

The Guide does not draw attention to how the right of parents to withdraw their children from sexuality and relationship education classes will be impacted by this ‘embedding’ recommendation, and thus does not suggest how parents’ rights in this regard might be respected. Although the Guide correctly states that schools must consult parents about the content of relationship and sexuality lessons, there is no question that the practice of embedding the topics throughout the curriculum thwarts the ability of parents to opt their children out of specific lessons. [1]

The Guide asserts that

Many ākonga at primary and intermediate schools are thinking about their gender identities, and some are aware of their sexual orientation. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 35)

We would suggest that while awareness of sexual orientation is often (but not always) innate, children are only thinking about their gender identities because that is a concept that school introduces them to in their first year at school and continues to reinforce in all subsequent years.

Teaching belief as fact

The RSE Guide promotes as fact the idea that a person’s feeling of being masculine, feminine, or neither, is more important than their physical sexed body. The phrase “assigned sex at birth” is referred to multiple times and, along with the use of words such as “cisgender” and “gender fluid”, demonstrates how the Guide has completely adopted the language of gender Ideology, and uses words which are offensive to many people world-wide who do not share this ideological belief.

The scientific evidence is very clear that there are two, and only two, distinct biological sexes. Sex is not an assumption and is not “assigned at birth” – it is observed and recorded. Teaching these falsehoods means children are learning to genuinely believe that it is possible to be born in the wrong body and that a person can actually – literally – change their sex.

Schools should be promoting body positive messages, not the idea that non-conformity to gender stereotypes means that a child’s personality or body is wrong. Children should not be led to believe that they need to change their body, bind their breasts, or wear different clothes to match a regressive sex stereotype.

Confusing and contradictory definitions

The glossary for the RSE Guide for both Years 1-8 and Years 9-13 is confusing to say the least: (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 48-50)

Sexual orientation: A person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are attracted. Sexual orientation and gender identity are two different things. Sexual orientation can be fluid for some people.

Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. This is used as both a personal identity and a community identity.

Gay: A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to the same gender. This is more widely used by men than women and can be both a personal and community identity.

Bisexual: A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to more than one gender.

According to this guide, sexual orientation is about which gender a person is sexually attracted to. Any adult and many children can see the contradiction in sexual orientation being described as attraction to a gender. We all know that sexual orientation refers to the sex one is attracted to. Gender is an irrelevant concept when talking about sexual orientation.

There is no acknowledgement at all given to the clear and consistent opposition by lesbian and gay organisations to the idea of lesbians and gays being same gender attracted[2]. Nor is there any recognition that for young lesbians and gays the idea that they ought to be attracted to the males and females who identify as the opposite sex is distressing and confusing.

Of course, in the gender identity world, gender is fluid and can change over one’s life as defined below:

Gender: Gender is an individual identity related to a continuum of masculinities and femininities. A person’s gender is not fixed or immutable.

Gender binary (male/female binary): The (incorrect) assumption that there are only two genders (girl/boy or man/woman)

Gender fluid: Describes a person whose gender changes over time and can go back and forth. The frequency of these changes depends on the individual.

Sex assigned at birth: All babies are assigned a sex at birth, usually determined by a visual observation of external genitalia. A person’s gender may or may not align with their sex assigned at birth.

Transgender (trans): This term describes a wide variety of people whose gender is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender people may be binary or non-binary, and some opt for some form of medical intervention (such as hormone therapy or surgery).

The writers of the glossary seem oblivious to the incoherence of saying that gender is not binary while at the same time believing trans people can change from one side of the binary to the other (multiple times) or can be non-binary. If there is no such thing as the gender binary, doesn’t that make everyone non-binary?

Missing from the glossary are the definitions of words which reflect biology such as male and female. It is challenging to imagine how biology and reproduction will be taught in this brave new world!

(Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 48-49) & (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 9-13 Pg 53-54)

Eroding parents’ rights

The RSE guide encourages schools to socially transition children without necessarily seeking parental consent. Socially transitioning a child is not an isolated act without consequence – it is the first step in a very serious, complex and life-changing process about which parents ought to be fully informed.

Gender ideology supporters also specifically encourage gender-questioning children to speak to Rainbow organisations, peers, or an ‘online family’ rather than their parents. In some schools, advice about using binders or starting on hormones is being provided to students by teachers who are not medically qualified.

The RSE guide appears to endorse this approach, not once stating that schools should inform or seek parental permission before using a student’s preferred name or pronouns. Where students need access to ‘support services’ and these cannot be accessed onsite, the guide specifies that students should be supported in seeking access to professionals outside of the school with no mention made of seeking parental consent. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 19; Pg 22)

The question of pronouns

A child changing pronouns is the beginning of social transition. Asking students and teachers to use ‘preferred pronouns’ may appear to be kind and inclusive, but in reality is forcing other people to adhere to a belief system they may not agree with.

Preferred pronouns can cause tension and conflict through the fear, or in the event, of someone making a mistake. They cement the social transition of a child, making it harder for them to later change their mind. Some gender non-conforming children may feel forced to choose different pronouns to avoid scrutiny from bullies.

Preferred pronouns reinforce the incorrect idea that people can change their sex. When the school encourages their use, they are promoting gender ideology as fact rather than belief. It is difficult to see this as anything other than ideological indoctrination.

Safe-guarding Issues

The RSE guide recommends, “Ideally, schools will have at least one gender-neutral toilet available for akonga, but trans, non-binary, and intersex akonga should not be required to use this rather than male or female toilets.”

This is an extraordinary double standard and creates a significant safe-guarding issue. Trans, non-binary, and intersex children can choose which toilets and changing rooms they use but girls are forced to accept males (who say they are really girls) in their toilets and changing rooms. Teaching girls that a boy really can become a girl trains them to suppress their instinctual caution and override their embarrassment and natural discomfort with having boys in their single sex spaces. It says that what girls want or feel doesn’t matter, and that they have no right to set their own boundaries.

Absolutely no consideration is given to the comfort or dignity of girls who do not want to share intimate spaces with male-bodied people and who have the right to set such boundaries. This statement clearly prioritises the needs of children who believe they are trans over those who don’t.

Gender questioning children need privacy and dignity just the same as other students. To that end, the school should ensure there are some unisex facilities for these students to utilise, but they should continue to offer single sex facilities as well. Boys and girls alike deserve a single-sex shared space where they can get changed and be comfortable together. Students are entitled to sex-segregated changing rooms, especially when some children, in particular those who are beginning puberty, are experiencing significant bodily changes.

(Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 20- 22)

Outside Providers

The Guide is clear that it is not considered best practice to hand over the responsibility for RSE programmes to outside providers and there are a number of questions they suggest should be asked such as “How is this provider funded and what is its purpose for existing? What is its agenda?” And “Schools should evaluate the programmes and services provided by outside agencies alongside their in-school learning programmes”. (Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 1-8 Pg 34 & Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guide: Years 9-12 Pg 40)

Despite these previous cautions, In April 2022 the Ministry of Education issued new resources designed to provide further support for teaching relationships and sexuality education in schools. As part of this update schools are urged to “use resources from trusted organisations like InsideOUT or RainbowYOUTH”.

Many of the third party activist groups that are endorsed by the Ministry have links on their pages that lead children to ever more extreme versions of gender ideology. These rainbow lobby groups universally glamourise the concept of being trans and convince children it is possible and even easy and desirable to change sex.

(Refer Relationships and Sexuality Education Guidelines: Years 7-10 Pg 21)


The RSE guide sets out many values with which most New Zealanders will agree, in terms of inclusiveness, safety and respect, and it deals with issues such as pornography and online abuse that are unfortunately highly relevant in today’s world. However, its heavy focus on gender theory is hazardous for children.

Many schools are now constantly promoting, in every facet of school life, the disorder of body dissociation as an ideal, chosen identity. Gender ideology communicates to children that some identities are more or less fashionable or desirable. Children who adopt a gender identity are constantly praised, put on a pedestal and celebrated; whilst lesbian, gay or heterosexual children are painted as privileged, boring, or undesirable. Placing so much significance on gender identity creates a breeding ground for social contagion and a consequent sharp increase in students developing gender dysphoria.

Affirmation of a trans identity is not kind. On the contrary it confirms to a child that they are the wrong sex and encourages their belief that their body needs to be changed. Medical intervention can only ever effect cosmetic change; the child’s sex remains the same. Other children should not be coerced into expressing a belief in ‘gender identity’ through the threat that not to do so is ‘unkind’ or ‘transphobic’.

Schools should be teaching that no child is born in the wrong body and that children can reject gender stereotypes and be their authentic selves without discrimination, labelling, or medical intervention to ‘fix’ them.

[1] [2]

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