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Sex secrets in schools?
The Births Deaths Marriages and Relationships Registration Act (2021), commonly called the BDMRR or the sex self-ID Act, comes into effect on 15 June 2023. It allows anyone, including children of any age, to change the sex marker on their birth certificate by a simple statutory declaration.
Under Clause 25, this Act allows guardians of a child to ‘nominate’ their sex, with the child’s consent, and a letter of support from a third party who does not have to be medically qualified.
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) that administers the Act says that “The third party is not assessing if the change is in the best interests of the child or young person, or if they physically conform to their gender” and therefore the third party can be a registered professional or “any person aged 18 or over that has known a child or young person for 12 months or more.”
This means that a child may arrive at a school having already had the sex marker on their birth certificate changed without any medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and potentially without any therapeutic plan for the care of the child’s physical and mental health.
From June 15, if the parents do not disclose the birth certificate change, schools will not know the biological sex of a newly enrolled child and will have no way of finding out because all previous birth certificates are hidden from public view.
Note: The Ministry of Education does have access to original birth certificates for use in the National Student Index, but it is unclear whether principals can also use that database. Even if they can, it is likely that, under privacy laws, principals will be unable to disclose that information to any other staff, which raises very serious safeguarding concerns.
Not knowing the correct sex of a child is a safeguarding issue for the child, other students, and all teachers. The possibilities are open-ended for accusations of, or actual, sexual assaults. Keeping secrets provides a rich environment for all sorts of bullying and emotional blackmail. If teachers do not know the actual sex of the children under their care, they cannot safely provide medical attention, or plan for residential camps, or offer sex-specific advice (eg on menstruation).
This unsafe secretive behaviour is already happening:
But the backlash has affected Jay, causing him to change schools and go from being “out and proud” to keeping his transition a secret.
“It’s a bit gutting actually because he is going to be found out and he is going to be hurt. He’s now asking his friends to lie for him, which is a shame.”
Everyone has Human Rights
All citizens have the right to hold or not to hold personal beliefs, and the freedom to express their views in public. However, when schools keep a child’s sex hidden from others, or command teachers to affirm a child’s gender identity, they are abandoning those fundamental rights.
Teachers, other students, and parents all have the right not to believe that children can change sex and the right not to participate in the rituals of someone else’s belief. No school would demand that everyone should say ‘amen’ at the end of every sentence, yet many are commanding the whole school to affirm a child’s adopted gender identity, and by so doing are disrespecting those who do not adhere to gender identity beliefs.
Ministry of Education (MOE) guidelines to schools that instruct teachers to use ‘preferred pronouns’, that tell schools they are not obliged to tell parents if a child transitions at school, and that keep the real sex of a child hidden from everyone else, are potentially also in conflict with the Care of Children Act and the Bill of Rights.
When asked about these potential conflicts in an Official Information Act request last year, the response from the MOE was brief and nonchalant:
The Ministry has not sought any legal advice in relation to the specific questions mentioned in your request therefore your request has been refused under Section 18(e) of the Act, as the document alleged to contain the information requested does not exist.
The MOE has not even considered these very serious concerns that are a direct consequence of sex self-ID. To date, the MOE has provided no advice to school boards on how they might legally and fairly navigate through the conflicting rights of parents, students, and teachers.
Across the country, principals and teachers are individually wrestling with these complex problems. No one is keeping statistics on how many teachers have been forced to resign because they disagreed with the school policies on gender and were not prepared to disregard their own values. No records are kept of how many students are changing their gender identity and how that affects everyone else in the school as well as its facilities and policies. No one knows how many parents have chosen to home school their children rather than expose them to gender theories they do not believe.
Without seeking a legal opinion and without collecting any data, Boards of Trustees and the Ministry of Education are flying blind into potentially very costly litigation from parents, teachers, or students whose human rights have been discounted.
Medsafe warning about puberty blockers
In this article Bernard Lane describes how the Ministry of Health was warned by Medsafe in September 2022 it could be breaking the law by publicising the off-label use of hormone suppression drugs to interrupt the puberty of transgender-identifying children.
“If the ministry advocated that certain medicines be used off-label, this could come in for criticism as a potential breach of the [Medicines Act 1981],” Medsafe’s manager of compliance, Derek Fitzgerald, said in an email exchange with ministry officers obtained under the Official Information Act by Simon Tegg of the group Fully Informed.
The ministry’s website previously had claimed these drugs were “a safe and fully reversible medicine” for children with gender distress but that statement was quietly changed to this less emphatic wording after the Medsafe advice:
“Puberty blockers are a medicine that can be used to halt the progress of potentially unwanted puberty-related physical changes. Blockers are sometimes used, with the guidance of a clinician who specialises in their use, from early puberty through to later adolescence to allow time to fully explore gender health options.”
Section 20 of the Medicines Act prohibits the advertising of an off-label—or unapproved—use of a medicine.
This report, along with two other recently- published articles, have finally opened up the public debate about the use of puberty blockers in New Zealand.
“Pharmac data shows New Zealand has had 703 children on puberty blockers compared with about 1000 prescribed them in England over the same 10-year period.” The NZ Herald 23 April.
Transition Alley by Andrew Anthony. The Listener May 13 2023.
This is “a dispute about science, best practice and the protection of young and vulnerable people.”
No one asked the girls
It is MOE policy for all new and refurbished school toilets to be gender neutral. The design is one where each cubicle is self-contained and has floor-to-ceiling walls and door. There is no shared washing area, and the cubicles are usually accessed from an open space. What could possibly go wrong?
Here is a testimonial from the mother of a five-year-old:
I’ve recently been into the school loo near my daughter’s classroom. They’re the usual unisex, fully enclosed toilets and I’m not a fan of girls having to share. More than once I found wee all over the seat. Not a little bit – a proper clean-up job. Not altogether surprising as they’re used by young boys. But it got me wondering how often my daughter encounters this, so I asked her, and she confirmed that there is often wee all over the seat. I asked her what she did, and she said she just cleaned it up each time. This makes me quite annoyed really. I never had to deal with that – the odd drop sure – but nothing like the state I’ve encountered in there. How many other schoolgirls are just routinely cleaning up a seat covered in wee? If schools are going to insist that girls share toilet facilities, then they need to ensure girls aren’t cleaning up after the boys.
No one asked the girls before imposing gender neutral toilets on them. There are other consequences too, such as boys having access to menstruation products and misusing them; girls being embarrassed by the proximity of boys when they are changing menstruation products; and the potential for children not to be heard when they need help inside the cubicle because they are nearly soundproof.
Ask your daughters – are they routinely cleaning up toilet seats before they can use them?
Ask your Board of Trustees – how will they ensure that girls have access to hygienic toilets without having to clean up after the boys?
Submissions to the Education and Workforce Select Committee
On 10 May, our spokesperson, Marg Curnow (at 1:12.20), presented the RGE oral submission against the proposal to include representatives of “genders, sexualities, and sexes” on school boards. Our written submission is here.
In its submission, Speak up for Women, (at 1:29:00) recommended changing the amendment wording to “that every board should reflect the diversity of their students and their community.” RGE supports this proposal and agrees that school boards know their communities well and are the ones best-placed to make the decisions about who should be co-opted onto boards.
Recently added to the RGE website – For Parents
Anatomy of a Medical Scandal by Victoria Smith. This review of Hannah Barnes' book "Time to Think" (about the collapse of the Tavistock Clinic) asks why everyone ignored "the elephant in the room, namely that human beings cannot change sex and the most vulnerable children should not be encouraged to believe that they can".
The Transgender Children's Crusade. by Kay S Hymowitz. "Gender identity, with its vision of autonomous children in touch with their innermost authentic desires, negates all we know about adolescence, just as it does early childhood… Whether they realize it or not, supporters are showing a wilful ignorance about child nature and endorsing views completely at odds with child psychology and legal and cultural traditions…"
Empowering Parents - Young People and Gender Identity. This downloadable PDF provides vital, accurate, information for parents and teachers to help them understand the complex issues affecting their children. Produced by "The Countess", a voluntary, non-partisan human rights group based in Ireland.
“Sex cannot change” cards
To order 50 of our ‘Sex cannot change’ cards, please deposit $10 into our bank account ASB 12-3158-0186494-00 with your name in the reference field. Then email firstname.lastname@example.org, giving your name and address.