Sex, sexuality and gender diverse youth now have access to a resource helping them navigate their legal rights at school thanks to InsideOUT.
Aiming to answer questions students may have about issues of sexual and gender diversity and their rights under New Zealand law, the resource covers frequently asked questions regarding issues such as bullying, freedom of speech, queer straight alliances, support for transgender students and more.
“More and more young people are being open about their sexual orientation and gender identities in schools,” says Tabby Besley, National Coordinator of InsideOUT.
She says schools have an obligation to provide a safe environment for all of their students, but many of them are still not fulfilling this.
“We have young people contacting us all the time who are being discriminated against by their schools in ways that don’t correspond with the law. We still hear stories about students having to rewrite assignments because their homophobic teacher said it wasn’t okay to talk about queer issues, or being refused to set up a queer-straight alliance when any other kind of club in the school is allowed.”
Among the issues is one of youth being asked to sign a disclaimer regarding how they identify in order for them to bring a same-gender partner to the ball. The safety and wellbeing of trans and gender diverse students are also not always prioritised by schools.
“We want this resource help students, staff and whānau advocate for the right to safety and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ youth in all our schools. Many young people don’t know how the law supports their situation, or don’t have the tools to advocate for themselves. We believe this resource can provide that information and give young people the confidence to stand up for their rights.”
Legal Rights At School: For Young People of Minority Sexualities and Genders is for high-school students and was created in partnership with Wellington & Hutt Valley Community Law.