Navigating the Journey
Family Planning believes young people have the right to “honest, accurate, and age-appropriate information about sexuality.” Their resource, Navigating the Journey, is provided for this purpose and is used in over 30% of New Zealand schools. https://www.familyplanning.org.nz/catalog/resources
This programme is intended for children from year 1 to year 10 with the aim of promoting the wellbeing of young people and to help them develop healthy, consensual, and respectful relationships.
While containing many worthwhile activities, the resource is not accurate or age-appropriate when it comes to sex and gender. The lessons present gender ideology as fact, without reference to gender identity being something some people believe but not the majority. Heterosexuality is only mentioned negatively.
The programme is divided into lessons for Years 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 , and 9-10, after which Health ceases to be a compulsory subject in schools. The same problems are evident at all levels of the lesson plans:
From Year One, children are taught that there are more sexes than male and female by incorrectly using intersex (a medical condition) as proof. (see our FAQ on intersex conditions here.)
Further, they are taught incorrect biology:
Turn around if you think everyone who has a period identifies as a girl. (NO) (p59 Y5-6)
Sit down if you think some boys start growing breasts during puberty. (YES) (p59 Y5-6)
Do our body parts define who we are? (No. Some people with penises might feel more like girls and some people who identify as boys might have female body parts.) (p63 Y5-6)
Appendix 19 (Y5-6)has labelled drawings of reproductive parts, but no label to say they are male or female.
The discussion about periods in Appendix 26 (Y5-6) refers to people getting periods, not girls getting periods.
The false and unscientific phrase “Sex assigned at birth” is used repeatedly. (eg p30 Y7-8)
A recommended video states that when you’re born, grown-ups make a “guess” and who you are can change from day to day Who Are You? - Book Reading - YouTube. (p38 Y3-4)
On p50 (Y7-8) the suggested discussion questions depict the battle for gay rights as still in full swing when it was won 20 years ago.
The rare condition of intersex is elevated to mainstream. At an incidence of 0.018% in the population, intersex doesn’t deserve to be listed alongside male and female (p30 Y7-8)
Belief taught as fact
“Other people may be born with female or male bodies, but as they grow up, they identify as being of the opposite gender, or of neither gender. The term for this is “transgender” or “non-binary”. (p33 Y7-8) A healthier message without labelling people would be: “They are gender nonconforming and that’s ok.”
Introducing Teddy - YouTube (Y3-4) “only you know who you are on the inside” apparently your parents don’t know you! Also reinforces that if a person (teddy in this case) goes against gender stereotypes (a bow in the hair), then they’re actually the other sex.
Erasure of sex categories
The language is clunky, confusing and ideological. If they kept it to the basics – male/female, gay/straight and said, “Just be you and ignore stereotypes,” the message would be a lot clearer and far more positive for everyone.
Occasionally man/male/boyfriend and woman/female/girlfriend appear but mostly these terms are removed and this makes for very clunky terminology and explanations like “people who have a penis”, “young people can get pregnant”,
'Sex' and 'gender' are sometimes used interchangeably, sometimes as very separate things (see pp32 and 30 Y7-8), and sometimes falsely, as when the male/female labels are removed from diagrams of reproductive parts "to support the discussion of sexual diversity". They mean to enforce the idea of gender identity. (p66 Y7-8)
Students are encouraged to challenge stereotypes (good!) but they are also relied upon to prove gender ideology.
“…too much exposure to stereotypical characters can affect how we perceive women and men and our expectations of what it is to be a woman or man. They can even shape how we see ourselves. It can be challenging for those who don’t see themselves as female, male, girl, boy, woman, or man.” (p31 Y7-8) A big opportunity has been missed to tell kids that stereotypes don’t matter, and that you can be yourself without worrying about labels.
“Do our body parts define who we are? (No. Some people with penises might feel more like girls and some people who identify as boys might have female body parts.)” (p68 Y7-8) If we are ignoring stereotypes, why are we labelling ourselves at all?
Lack of inclusion
Only non-heterosexual relationships are noted as worthy of celebration. The rare times heterosexuality is referenced it is ridiculed (p31) or treated as oppressive (p49 Y7-8).
In the Understanding gender and stereotypes lesson (pp29-34 Y7-8) – the heterosexual couples are from fairytales while the intended learning aims resources are all for other sexualities. Apparently including ‘everyone’ excludes heterosexual people.
The activities that ask students to, “visualize being straight in a gay society and imagine how you feel” and “compare heterosexual and homosexual couples in different situations”, treat heterosexual people as oppressors and have the potential to create divisions between children where there previously were none. p49 (Y7-8)
Risk of isolation
Activities that put students in small groups and make them stand and move to make their opinions or knowledge known are prime opportunities for creating embarrassment and isolation. (p46, 58, 59 Y7-8)
Seeds of doubt
Navigating the Journey plants seeds of doubt in vulnerable children's minds by saturating them with gender ideology, normalising stereotypes, and promoting gender identity labels. Children are manipulated into wanting to find a label for themselves so they can also be celebrated as special. Children need to be left alone without labels, because 80% of gender confused kids find peace with their bodies after going through puberty.
The focus on transgender identities is confusing and obscures the simple fact that to be inclusive is to accept everyone the way they are without labels.
When the resource asks, “What are some things that we could do as a community to make sure everybody feels comfortable and safe, whatever their identity?” the answer surely is, "How about lose the labels and stereotypes and let kids be kids? "
This programme is politicising children, turning them into little social justice warriors to fight a battle that doesn’t exist. The number one thing that could be done to improve acceptance of others is to remove gender ideology from schools and promote simple inclusivity of everyone, with no labels.
Instead, students are told that their body concerns may be kept confidential from their parents and they are encouraged to find a wide range of other support people. Among the support sources cited is Rainbow Youth which encourages children who are uncomfortable in their bodies to transition.
Worksheets are available for parents and caregivers but do not include any of the above information. There is no acknowledgement of the credentials of the authors of Navigating the Journey. Parents should be aware that untruths are being taught about biology, identity, and gender.
Schools do not have to ask for parents’ permission for their child to be included in this programme but parents do have the right to withdraw them. For more information read Your Rights as a Parent.