Saturday, June 22

Identity crisis

Women’s groups are hopeful that the coalition agreement spells the beginning of the end of gender ideology in schools and public institutions. 

The agreement states the 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.’

Maori gender critical group Mana Wāhine Kōrero met with New Zealand First before the election. They are pleased the coalition agreement included this statement of intent, even if it is vague about what will be removed and what the replacement will look like. They, and other women’s groups, assume the intention is to purge the curriculum of gender ideology.

Gender ideology is currently embedded in the relationships and sexuality education guidelines (RSE) as well as the mental health (MH) guidelines to schools. Even though guidelines do not have to be applied, groups like Resist Gender Education (RGE) have heard from concerned parents that children are coming home wondering if they are a boy or a girl after being taught sex is mutable. RGE is a lobby group of parents, grandparents, educators and concerned citizens,

Gender ideology is infused right throughout the curriculum, says RGE spokesperson Fern Hickson. She knows of a school where pronouns are discouraged in order to prevent giving offence and a girl’s school where the word girl is not used. Instead pupils are welcomed with greetings like “hello team.”

All the education minister, Erica Stanford has said is that she is taking advice on what was in the coalition agreement but RGE believes a strong statement is needed from the minister instructing schools to immediately

  • Cease teaching children that it is possible to change sex
  • Desist from social transitioning at school and
  • Stop providing information about chest binders, puberty blockers and other ‘gender health care..

Picture books in schools like My Daddy’s Belly and The Gender Book introduce young children to what is essentially an unscientific ideology.

Hickson says the current guidelines create unnecessary division between parents and children by teaching them that parents inevitably pose barriers to their self-determination.

The RSE guidelines say students should be able to choose a toilet and changing room that matches their gender identity. ‘For example trans girls should be able to use the female toilets if they prefer to’  In other words boys get to use girls’ toilets.

It also advocates trans-affirming healthcare for young people, describes sex as ‘assigned’ and says that learning outcomes include identifying ‘that gender and sexual identities can change.’

Schools and teachers are alerted to the risks of calling in the wrong outside providers. The mental health curriculum warns their quality and motivation may vary. They may even have a particular agenda.

“In spite of this advice, one of the major providers to schools is InsideOut, a gender affirming service that teaches scientific falsehoods, for example that sex is on a spectrum and people can choose their sex or to have no sex at all. 

InsideOut also suggests schools teach students about the establishment of intersex surgeries in the 1960s by John Money, “and the intersex activism movement that has sought bodily autonomy globally and in Aotearoa.”

John Money was the New Zealand sexologist and pedophile who famously experimented on a set of boy twins, one of whom died of a drug overdose while the other killed himself.

Women’s groups believe these resources are causing harmful identity disruption for children and young people. Instead of outlining the concept of a secure healthy identity, the guidelines raise subtle questions that open the door of doubt in a child’s mind.

Although the coalition has vowed to remove and replace the guidelines, Hickson points out that by the time they hire people to rewrite, edit and produce new guidelines, several years could have passed. In the meantime RGE hopes they don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater..

“There are a lot of fabulous things in the curriculum like looking at porn and how to manage it, asking what is a healthy relationship and talking about consent. It would be a shame if children missed out on this. The opposition can sound muddled. People can muddle the LGB with the T and want to remove the LGB out of schools.”

Gender ideology is also prevalent throughout the public service. Speak Up For Women’s website highlights the case of a Ministry of Transport policy analyst who challenged the presenter of an InsideOut workshop. The analyst questioned the definition of lesbian as same gender attracted and asked if a lesbian should be attracted to a male-bodied person. She later received a letter expressing concern about her use of this term and the way she challenged the presenter.

The Free Speech Union stepped in and wrote to the Public Services Commissioner. They reminded him that the public service was meant to be ideologically neutral.

The Public Services Commissioner referred the matter to the chief executive of the Ministry of Transport who dismissed the Free Speech Union’s concerns. Apparently the policy analyst had only been asked to reflect on her behaviour and consider how she might express her views in a respectful and considerate manner.

As the errant policy analyst said later “it should not require courage for a public servant in 2023 to say that lesbians are same-sex attracted females. And yet here we are.”

The woman has since resigned and moved to the United Kingdom.