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Your Rights as a Teacher

The teaching of gender identity ideology is a new practice in Aotearoa and raises many questions for teachers who do not subscribe to this belief. Under the NZ Bill of Rights Act, people have the right both to hold and not to hold a belief. In the United Kingdom, The Maya Forstater case upheld the right for people to hold and express gender critical views.

Are teachers’ views protected in the same way in Aotearoa?

To find out, we have recently asked the Ministry of Education and the Teaching Council a series of questions:

  • What are the rights of teachers or schools to decline to teach gender identity ideology if they don't subscribe to that belief system, even though teaching it is recommended in the Ministry of Education Relationship and Sexuality Guide?

  • Would it be against the law for a school to teach that sex is binary and cannot be changed but that people can change their gendered behaviour?

  • Do students or staff have the right to ask others to use their preferred opposite sex or neo pronouns (as that is their protected belief) AND is there a matching right for students and staff to decline to do so (as that is their protected belief)?

  • What are the employment rights of staff who decline to participate in social transitioning of both children and adults, for example by not using opposite sex or neo pronouns?

  • How can teachers manage the expectation of the school that they must, at the same time, both keep confidential an adult or child’s sexuality or gender identity and also affirm it?

  • Would teachers who provided information about the negative consequences of gender transitioning to students be considered to have broken the Conversion Therapy Practices Prohibition Act?

We will share the answers to these important questions when they have been received.

A Teacher’s Guide to Sex and Gender

This UK website from Teachers for Evidence-based Education provides guidance and resources to help educational professionals navigate the issue of sex and gender identity in schools. The group believes that “sex matters and that to deny the importance of material reality will lead to inequality and conflict between people with different protected characteristics.”

Transgender Trend

This is another UK website that provides a resource pack for schools, including guidance and case studies on good policies and practices.

Pronouns are not ‘preferred’

A US court has ruled that an Ohio university cannot require a professor to use a student’s preferred titles and pronouns because it violates his free speech rights, stating: “A university president could require a pacifist to declare that war is just, a civil rights icon to condemn the Freedom Riders, a believer to deny the existence of God, or a Soviet émigré to address his students as ‘comrades.’ That cannot be.”

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