Free Speech Union Welcomes Ethos’ Policy Guide To Schools Navigating Gender Ideology

Published: Tue 7 May 2024 04:40 PM
A new policy guide for New Zealand schools released by human rights advocacy organisation Ethos includes recommendations for how speech and conscience rights can be upheld when dealing with differing gender ideologies, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.
“Everyday, schools must navigate the complex space relating to students transitioning their gender. Understandably, there are a range of opinions surrounding this topic. We believe more open conversations are needed, and this policy document supports those discussions.
“The Inclusive Education Policy currently produced by SchoolDocs doesn’t allow for nuanced discussions or perspectives, and has blanket provision for the use of a student’s preferred name and pronouns, resulting in compelled speech. The Ethos report endorses a ‘watchful waiting’ approach that “stops to ask important questions about the particular child in their particular circumstances”.
“To prioritise the inclusion of all its students, schools must broadly assess their policies and procedures, including allowances for students and staff who do not believe gender is a social construct or is non-binary.
“It also recognises that the CPPLA (Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Act 2022) allows anyone the ability to voice beliefs and religious principles provided it does not intend to suppress an individual’s gender identity. This is an important defense of both staff and students’ speech and conscience rights.
“Ethos’ policy document deals with a complex question and provides recommendations for how teachers can respectfully maintain their own freedoms of conscience and speech while also supporting students around them. It is a welcome contribution to this important discussion.”

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