Catholic schools not exempt in support of trans students

Contrary to reports in the UK Daily Mail, the Catholic Church in New Zealand says no evidence suggests the teacher involved in the disciplinary tribunal case belonged to a Catholic school.

When approached for comment, David McLoughlin, Communications Adviser for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, said nothing in the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal decision or in any NZ media says or suggests any Catholic involvement in this case.

In the decision, the teacher specifically says his stance is based on his “Christian belief,” not his religion, which is not stated.

Auckland Secondary Schools’ Principals Association president Greg Pierce said schools were required to use students’ legal names for formal reporting purposes. But for daily, practical use, most schools preferred to use students’ chosen names and pronouns, he said.

Catholic schools are not exempt from requirements to protect and support trans students.

Integrated schools, most of which are Catholic, are entitled to have a special character but were still bound by human rights legislation, Ministry of Education general manager Sela Finau said. That included the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex, which has been interpreted to include gender identity.

Dr Kevin Shore, who leads the Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools, said Catholic bishops had provided clear directions and guidelines supporting trans students to ensure they are safe and supported.

However, in a statement, Right to Life, a Christchurch-based pro-life group, is questioning the justice of the decision of the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal.

Right to Life says that the teacher’s human rights of free speech and freedom of religion have been violated.

They also maintain the tribunal’s decision also violates the student’s right to be educated in a safe environment.

“Right to Life upholds the biological truth that the student is a female, having been created by God with forty-six XX chromosomes.

“There is no medical procedure on earth that can change her gender from female to male,” say the group.

Teacher deregistered

A New Zealand teacher was deregistered after refusing to acknowledge a transgender student’s preferred pronouns and name, citing religious beliefs.

The teacher, whose identity remains undisclosed in the Disciplinary Tribunal decision, informed the 14-year-old student that gender transition conflicted with his Christian faith.

While not contesting the student’s account, the teacher denied any wrongdoing during the tribunal proceedings.

‘Teachers have a responsibility of care and part of this is affirming the birth sex of every child, the gender they were created as, which is an inseparable part of their identity,’ he told the tribunal.

“God knows best and this behaviour will have negative consequences.”

The teacher further asserted that individuals seeking to transition should seek “help and deliverance.”

The teacher’s submissions caused the tribunal to have ‘significant concerns’ about his ability to continue working as a teacher.

“They (the teacher) begin with objection based on Christianity, move to verbatim scripture, and then continue on to link the conduct with ‘the devil’, homosexuality and even abortion” the decision reads.

‘The Tribunal is left with the firm view that Mr (teacher’s name) is not fit to be a teacher. The conduct on its own calls this into serious question,’ the decision reads.

In response to the incident, Finau emphasised that all schools are legally obligated to cater to students with diverse needs and create a safe and inclusive environment.

Although the legislation does not specifically address the use of preferred names and pronouns, the ministry published guidelines last year to provide schools and educators with direction on this matter.


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New Zealand Herald

Supplied: Right to Life

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