Labour MP Ginny Andersen says LGBTQ+ teaching should 'most definitely' remain in schools

  • 01/12/2023

The new Government is vowing to remove sexuality and relationship guidelines in schools. 

It comes after Winston Peters' NZ First Party campaigned on removing "gender ideology" from the curriculum. The policy was subsequently included in the National Party's coalition agreement with NZ First. 

"I want to make this very clear from the start - there is a health curriculum that will continue to be taught," Education Minister Erica Stanford told AM. "The... relationship and sexuality (RSE) guidelines were introduced by Labour in 2020 and they have caused a huge amount of anxiety, and a rift between our parent communities and our schools." 

Defending the new Government's policy, Stanford said taking a "fresh look" at the guidelines was the responsible thing to do. 

"Many parents had said to us they were concerned about the age appropriateness of the content... What we do know is that it's caused a rift between our communities, the responsible thing to do is say, at a point in time when we have the highest disengagement rate between young people and schools amongst all the people we compare ourselves to, we have to make sure we solve that rift that exists in our communities." 

Stanford said the new Government wanted to make sure the RSE guidelines were "fit for purpose". 

"Many young people need this information," senior Labour MP Ginny Andersen told AM, appearing alongside Stanford. "It is critical for the development of our young people so to... make it into a football and say, 'We're teaching our kids the wrong things' - it's better we have a conversation, as adults, about, what are good things that our kids need to grow up in a really difficult and changing world?" 

Ginny Andersen and Erica Stanford.
Ginny Andersen and Erica Stanford. Photo credit: AM

Asked whether consent and transgender issues should still be taught and discussed in schools, Andersen said they "most definitely" should. 

"As a parent, I would want my kids having those discussions." 

But Stanford said it should be up to the individual schools to make those decisions. 

"The question around these guidelines is all about age appropriateness and that's why we just want to have a fresh look at it to make sure that it's meeting the needs of our communities." 

Among the new Government's other education policies, several of which are in the Coalition's 100-day plan, included requiring primary and intermediate schools to teach an hour of reading, writing and math every day; banning cellphones in schools; redesigning the English and math curricula for primary schools and scrapping the national polytechnic merger introduced by the previous Government.