Controversial sex education book Welcome to Sex given 'unrestricted classification' in New Zealand

A controversial sex education book by two Australian authors has been given an "unrestricted classification" in a ruling from Te Mana Whakaatu Classification Office.

Welcome to Sex!, by Yumi Stynes and Dr Melissa Kang, provides information on everything from consent and sexuality to sexual positions.

The unrestricted rating will allow parents and whānau to decide if the educational resource is right for their teenagers.

In a statement with the ruling, Chief Censor Caroline Flora said the Office determined it was an educational book for teenagers.

"For young people seeking information about sex, resources like this provide an alternative to pornography or other material online that could be harmful. The classification allows parents to determine if it's right for their teens.

A controversial sex book for kids has had over 400 requests for submission.
A controversial sex book for kids has had over 400 requests for submission. Photo credit: Google Books

"Restricting this publication would take away the ability of parents and whānau to use this publication as an educational tool in discussions around sex.

"It would also make this educational resource less accessible than online pornography, which we know from our previous research is often the 'go-to' for young people curious to find out more about sex."

Flora said they gave very serious consideration to the 400 submissions, many of which were unhappy about its no-holds-barred approach to educating in sexual matters.

"For us it was a very straightforward decision. Our legislation is very clear as to what constitutes an 'Objectionable' (i.e. banned or illegal) publication, or why a publication should be restricted in some other way. To meet the legal threshold the availability of this publication would have to be 'injurious to the public good'."

They said the book's clear labelling made it obvious what it was and meant parents would be able to make an informed decision.

"The book is clearly about sex. It is written in very large letters on the front cover so is unlikely to be mistaken for a book on another subject."

However, the Office said it would be "advising libraries and booksellers to consider how they display the book, as it is a publication that is more suitable for teenagers or for parents as an educational tool."

When the book was first released, the Office received 15 requests to classify it, followed by "over 400 additional emails from members of the public".

The Office also advised anyone wishing to appeal the decision "can do so within 20 working days".

The book is no stranger to debate.

In August, The Guardian reported it had been pulled from the shelves of Australian department store Big W after staff members were abused for the book's presence.

Co-author Stynes told SBS News she had received death threats over the book, but argued it was a vital resource.

"It's not going to hurt a kid to hear about sex, and anyone who's had a kid or spent time with them understands that they have a huge curiosity about sex when they're ready."