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Fishhooks in Inclusive Education Policy
Is your school currently undertaking a review of its ‘Inclusive Education’ policy?
Under the Education and Training Act 2020, school boards are required to ensure that schools are physically and emotionally safe environments that adhere to relevant legal responsibilities and maintain an inclusive learning community. Each school must form and regularly review an ‘Inclusive Education’ policy. Read on, if your school’s policy is open for consultation.
SchoolDocs is a private company https://www.schooldocs.co.nz/ that provides ready-made policy documents for schools, including one for ‘inclusivity’. Chances are that your school has used this document as a basis for its own policy.
The SchoolDocs policy recognises that schools have a duty to be “sensitive to all religious beliefs and belief systems” and has policies for addressing harassment and bullying.
It supports LGBTQ students (and thus all students) by having gender-neutral uniform options and gender-neutral toilets and changing rooms in addition to single-sex facilities.
The policy aims to maintain an inclusive learning community and culture that allows students to express their diverse identities.
Conflict with the Bill of Rights
Unfortunately, some of the proposed ‘inclusivity’ policies conflict with the Bill of Rights, as they prioritise the wishes of a small number of students and their whanau over the needs of the majority of students and their whanau.
Under clause 13 of the Bill of Rights Act 1990, everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, including the right to adopt and to hold opinions without interference.
The policy that requires teachers to use “the preferred name and pronouns of students” is at odds with this clause in the Bill of Rights.
Those teachers and students who do not believe in the concept of gender identity and the doctrine that accompanies it are forced to behave according to a belief system they do not hold. This is no different than, for example, requiring someone to pray at the beginning or end of a class, and is a clear interference with personal opinions.
These teachers and students are having their freedom of belief and their right to hold opinions without interference denied to them.
Additionally, although most teachers are comfortable to use student preferred names or nicknames, this should never be mandated because there are instances where it is inappropriate for that degree of informality between a teacher and student.
Preferred pronouns unworkable in schools
No school should have a policy that requires students and staff to use preferred pronouns for everyone in the classroom. The use of ‘preferred pronouns’ is an unworkable concept in schools.
In addition to the clash with the Bill of Rights, many neurodiverse and learning-disabled students, or those with speech and language difficulties, or those with English as an additional language, find the concept very confusing and difficult.
Requiring teachers and students to use preferred pronouns also goes against the proposed policy in the same document of “supporting students and families whose first language is not English”.
It is not the responsibility of children or teachers to provide gender identity affirmation to students in their classes.
Using preferred pronouns can ‘cement’ in an identity for students and make it more difficult for them to change their minds at a later time.
Gender Identity is a belief not a fact
The concept of gender identity is a belief that not everyone holds. The Bill of Rights Act protects this belief, while at the same time protecting those who don’t hold the belief. It is comparable to how we treat a religious belief, where a believer and a non-believer can work together without difficulty or interference in their respective beliefs, with consideration being given to each.
Resist Gender Education attests gender identity is a belief because there is absolutely no objective evidence that it exists. It is a subjective feeling which cannot be externally identified, measured, or corroborated.
A further example of conflict with the Bill of Rights is the statement that the school will take “a positive approach when teaching about gender identity and sexuality as part of our health curriculum.” This assumes, firstly, that gender identity is real and, secondly, that the community wants the tenets of this belief taught to its children.
There is nothing positive about teaching children that they have a gender which is determined by their interests and feelings and that this gender is more important than their biological sex.
On the other hand, it is positive to teach children that there is no right way to be a boy or girl and they can pursue whatever interests they wish, but their sex remains immutable.
The rights of parents
Under the Care of Children Act, parents have the responsibility to determine medical care and educational choices for their children.
Under the Education Act, principals are expected to inform parents of any matters that in the principal’s opinion “are preventing or slowing the student’s progress... (or) harming the student’s relationships with teachers or other students.”
It is important that the school is cognisant of these two acts when writing a policy about student privacy and information sharing. Schools should never have a policy of colluding with students to keep secrets from parents, unless in the most exceptional circumstances, where student welfare is known to be at risk.
The current wording of the proposed ‘incusivity’ policy: “discussing student privacy, preferred level of information sharing, and obtaining consent before publishing student information” does not make these parental rights clear.
The SchoolDocs policy states: “We take the views, beliefs, and customs of our community into consideration, while ensuring that the health and wellbeing of our students takes priority”. The questions that must be answered by each Board of Trustees are:
How are the beliefs and customs of the community identified?
How does the school define ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ and how does it ensure these definitions are scientifically accurate and agreed to by the community?
Is the health and wellbeing of some groups of students given priority and are there any negative consequences for another group of students?
How are students who identify as transgender being protected from the harms of gender identity ideology? (Life long dependence on drugs, irreversible and health damaging side-effects from those drugs, irreversible surgery and many more) https://www.transgendertrend.com
Is the board aware of the alternative non-invasive approaches to managing gender dysphoria? https://genspect.org/
Find information here about the responsibilities of school Boards of Trustees to form policies that benefit all students in the school.