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Beyond the Birds and Bees
For decades, parents have been concerned by the hyper-sexualisation of children via the entertainment industry, celebrities, social media, and pornography. But they didn’t expect their children to be sexualised through education.
Two recent ‘sex education’ resources, aimed at young teens, do just that. The first, “Welcome to Sex” we wrote about in our last newsletter. The second, “Beyond the Birds and Bees”, is a new app and website launched by Canterbury University that contains very similar material.
Resist Gender Education supports sex education when it is scientifically factual and age-appropriate, and when parents have been consulted about the content.
“Beyond the Birds and Bees” (B&B), is a comprehensive website that does contain some good information, but it also has many concerning aspects.
It suggests that children under twelve should talk to their family before opening the website but there is no barrier at all to a young child clicking on past the advice.
The site presents gender identity as if it is a known fact, when it is a belief held only by some people.
It describes sexual practices that are not age-appropriate.
By going directly to children, it cuts across parental rights to decide how and when their children will learn about sexuality.
Just as it is not age-appropriate to teach six year olds about puberty because it is not yet relevant to them, it is also not age-appropriate to teach twelve year olds about intimate relationships, including oral and anal sex, four years before the age of consent. The Youth19 Survey on the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Secondary School Students does not identify a need for twelve year olds to be taught the intricacies of various sex acts:
Overall, 13% of students report being sexually active, with no significant difference between males and females. Senior students were more likely to be currently sexually active (29% of those aged 17 and over) compared to junior students (2% of those aged 13 and under)… Students being sexually active in the previous 3 months has also significantly declined over time, from 21% in 2001 to 13% in 2019. [p4]
Who am I?
In defence of the app’s focus on gender ideology, the authors cite a survey of 81 teens aged 13-18 who, unsurprisingly, (because the media is awash with stories about it) had a lot of questions about gender identity, transitioning, and the new language associated with these ideas.
Regrettably, instead of answering the teen’s questions objectively, the authors state contested beliefs as if they are fact, asserting that gender is on a spectrum and may change and that people know their gender by age three.
“A person’s gender identity may or may not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Either way, it’s all good! Your physical body doesn’t have to define your gender.”
Transgender and intersex people are presented as normal and common ‘identities’, and are given more attention than heterosexual or homosexual people. Males and females are described as “people with a penis” or “people with a vulva” and the descriptions of various sex acts reduce the participants to body parts.
The phrase “sex assigned at birth” is used repeatedly and the assertion is made that “everyone has a gender identity”, there are “many genders”, and “all are valid”. People can be ‘trans’ with or without medical or surgical changes, they say, and there are links to sites offering ‘gender affirming healthcare’ including binders, hormones and surgeries.
The B&B app, available to any child who cares to click on it, confuses and destabilises children by treating sex and gender expression as interchangeable and planting the idea of body dissociation into susceptible young minds.
Transgenderism is a topic suitable for those over 16 who are capable of understanding that wanting to discard sexist stereotypes does not require body modifications of any kind. Older students are better able to critically analyse the claims made for transitioning and see that it is not the panacea for every teen’s problems that it is made out to be by the authors of B&B.
RGE supports older teens discussing transgender beliefs, but only in the context that some people hold these beliefs, while many don’t. Teenagers need to be taught clearly about the difference between a person’s reproductive sex, which can never change, and gendered behaviour (names, clothes, mannerisms) which of course can change but does not define a person’s sex.
Te Ao Takatāpui
In this section, the myth that transgender people existed in traditional Māori society is perpetuated, despite a lack of evidence.
“Before Aotearoa was colonised by the British, Māori society was very open to gender and sexual diversity. People of all genders were included and celebrated, as were their relationships with people of all genders.”
Michelle Uriarau, a founding member of Mana Wāhine Kōrero - an advocacy group of and for Māori women - describes here the misrepresentation of Tikanga Māori (Māori Culture) which activists have used to justify gender non-conformity, despite there being absolutely no evidence that pre-colonial Māori accepted a fluid definition of gender.
Who created Beyond the Birds and Bees?
The website has been written and developed by academics from the University of Canterbury with support from many taxpayer-funded entities.
With the thousands (or hundreds of thousands?) of dollars received, the authors have been able to set up a website, app, and facebook, Tiktok, and Instagram accounts, ensuring blanket accessibility for young people.
In its introduction, the writers say “We hope this space will continue to develop as people across the motu tell us what they want added to the site. Now there is a space for everyone to get involved and learn something!”
We urge parents to take up the suggestion!
If this website had an R16 classification and approached gender identity as a concept open to robust analysis and criticism, it could be a useful resource.
As it stands, RGE does not recommend B&B because it promotes gender ideology as a fact and it is readily available to young children who do not have the emotional maturity for a lot of its content.