Friday, June 14, 2024

Call for removal of ‘gender ideology’ from primary schools

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The Mental Health Foundation wants people to sign an open letter calling on the Government to retain the relationships and sexuality guidelines in New Zealand schools. Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

An east Auckland parent strongly opposes a call by the Mental Health Foundation for the Government to retain the controversial relationships and sexuality guidelines (RSE) in New Zealand schools.

As the Times has previously reported, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has provided schools with guidelines to assist the preparation and delivery of sex education, which is part of the New Zealand Curriculum.

A 2020 MoE guide on relationships and sexuality education (RSE) for pupils in years 1-8 states schools are encouraged to question “gender stereotypes and assumptions”.

Identities that should be recognised and supported, according to the guidelines for primary school pupils, include lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex and transgender people.

Among the “Suggested learning intentions” is a section that states pupils should be able to “consider variations in puberty, including the role of hormone blockers”, which prevent a young person from going through puberty.

Part of the National Party’s coalition agreement with New Zealand First states the coalition Government will “refocus the curriculum on academic achievement and not ideology, including the removal and replacement of the gender, sexuality, and relationship-based education guidelines”.

The Times contacted Education Minister Erica Stanford’s office late last year for comment on when parents can expect to see the RSE guidelines removed and replaced and what they’ll be replaced with, but did not receive a response.

Now, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is asking people to sign an open letter calling on the Government to retain the RSE guidelines.

The letter is co-signed by 26 mental health and Rainbow organisations and is available online for public signatures until Pink Shirt Day on May 17.

The letter will eventually be sent to Stanford.

MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson says the guidelines were developed to address calls to help end school bullying, violence and child abuse, and have been successfully in place since 2020

“We believe all children and young people deserve to feel safe and included at school and kura, regardless of their gender, sexuality or background.

“The current RSE guidelines can help schools create these safe and inclusive environments, environments where bullying isn’t enabled to thrive.

“Removing the guidelines will simply mean teachers have fewer resources to teach the sexuality education they still have to teach, while sending a strong signal to teachers and students that creating safe school environments is not a priority.”

The open letter reminds Stanford and the Government the RSE guidelines were the result of in-depth consultation with teachers, students and parents, and are not mandatory.

East Auckland parent Katherine Chua wants the current relationships and sexuality guidelines scrapped. Times file photo

However, New Zealand lobby group Resist Gender Education says Kiwi parents are disappointed to see a key election promise has not been reflected in the Government’s latest 100 day plan.

“While addressing important concerns such as literacy and teacher training in the 100 day plan, it is notable the Government has placed more importance on re-introducing charter schools than meeting its promise to rewrite the RSE guide,” spokesperson Fern Hickson says.

Opposed to the RSE guidelines being retained also is east Auckland parent Katherine Chua.

She says the guidelines recommend teaching children from five years old that all people have a gender identity.

“At this age, children do not yet have ‘sex constancy’, a concept that sex does not change in humans.

“Therefore, such education disrupts a child’s natural development of this sense.

“Within a classroom setting, if one child identifies as the opposite sex, not only the child, but also every other young classmate, may be conditioned by teachers to accommodate the falsehood.

“A recent Curia Poll commissioned by Family First NZ showed 69 per cent of respondents oppose teaching gender ideology in primary schools.

“People from a wide range of backgrounds, not just conservative religious people, oppose this kind of education.

“Resist Gender Education is a broad group of volunteers that includes religious, non-religious people, lesbians, straight people, people across the political spectrum, current and former teachers, parents and non-parents.

“They’re asking for signatories to their open letter which states they support teaching good quality sex education, but without gender identity ideology.”

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