Media Release 3 July 2016
Family First NZ says that the Human Rights Commission is ignoring the law, including the Human Rights Act, regarding ‘gender identity’ in schools and is preferring to elevate ideology above the law, thereby trampling on the rights of the overwhelming majority of students. The accusation comes after Marlborough Girls College capitulated to ideology rather than biology and is allowing a transgender student to use the toilets and changing rooms opposite to their biological sex.
“Students have a fundamental right to bodily privacy. The Human Rights Commission are more focused on pushing gender ideology than being concerned about the rights of the overwhelming majority of students. What should young girls who are uncomfortable or intimidated by the presence of a biological male in their bathroom or changing room do, particularly young girls who have been victims of sexual abuse? Is it safe for a young female student to be in an intimate facility with adolescent or older males? We have male and female changing rooms because of biology, not because of ‘gender identity’. Separate facilities reflect the fact that boys and girls have bodily differences; they are designed to protect privacy related to our bodies. Is it safe for a boy to be playing in the girls’ rugby team?” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
Family First NZ released a legal opinion for schools earlier this year which the HRC has failed to refute. The legal opinion examines the Education Act, Bill of Rights Act, Human Rights Act and case law, and says that limiting access to toilets and changing rooms based on sex has long been considered appropriate given the need to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for all students. Limiting participation in sports teams on the basis of sex has also been about providing a safe physical environment particularly in the contexts of sports that involve physical contact and a physical contest of strength.
The legal opinion says that such concerns are prescribed by the national educational guidelines and are legitimate concerns, and that it is “overly simplistic and incorrect to say that schools are required to give transgender students access to shared toilets, showers and changing rooms.” The opinion does however acknowledge that schools need to consider and address the needs of students with gender dysphoria in a reasonable manner without infringing on the rights of the majority of students.
“Schools have a duty to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students. The agenda pushed by groups such as the Human Rights Commission and also the PPTA, AIDS Foundation and Rainbow Youth says that young people have a ‘right’ to use any toilet that matches their gender identity irrespective of their biological sex, but this fails to consider the welfare of the whole school environment,” says Bob McCoskrie.
“The toilet issue is just the tip of the iceberg. What about the issues of changing rooms for PE, camp cabins, and participation in sports teams? It is neither enlightened or loving to pretend we can just let young people decide which gender they want to be. What is most disturbing is that our state education system creates a school based on biological sex and then capitulates to being a school based on ‘gender identity’ – a completely non-scientific construct.”
“Students with gender dissatisfaction must be given the very best support we can and handled with love and care, but ignoring biology is not a proper solution. They certainly should not be used by groups such as the HRC to push an ideology that tramples on the rights of other students,” says Mr McCoskrie.