A New Zealand, high school teacher has had his teaching registration cancelled after refusing to use the preferred pronouns and name of one of his transgender students.

The Teaching Council of Aotearoa, New Zealand, emphasised that all students should feel safe and respected in schools, and teachers should not undermine the personal identity of their learners. Leading LGBTQ+ charity in New Zealand also voiced support for respecting students’ identities in school settings.

The teacher, whose identity remains undisclosed, faced a Disciplinary Tribunal composed of legal and educational professionals in February following a complaint from a 14-year-old student. The student, who was transitioning from female to male, had a “preferred male name” recorded in the school’s online portal. Despite this, the math teacher declined to address the student by their preferred name and pronouns. During a meeting with the student, the teacher cited his Christian beliefs as a reason for opposing gender transition.


The student proposed a compromise, allowing the teacher to use the preferred name while continuing to use she/her pronouns. However, the teacher rejected this compromise, expressing concerns about the student’s perceived “sinful” path. The teacher claimed that his Christian beliefs prevented him from accepting the concept of gender transitioning as a whole and from using the student’s preferred name or pronouns.

The teacher vigorously denied wrongdoing during the hearing, arguing that using the student’s chosen pronouns would constitute serious misconduct and child abuse. He continued to misgender the student during his testimony and asserted that he was not obligated to use the student’s preferred name because the student was under 18. In response, the tribunal pointed out that the teacher would likely use a shortened version of a name if requested, indicating a double standard.

The teacher further argued that using pronouns other than those assigned at birth conflicted with his core Christian beliefs, which he considered foundational for New Zealand. He contended that individuals attempting to deviate from their birth-assigned gender required “help and deliverance” and criticised schools for suggesting that gender is a choice.

During his submissions, the teacher introduced several Bible verses that he believed supported his stance, including passages condemning homosexuality and abortion. He asserted that all forms of abortion deviated from Christian values and should be considered murder.

As part of his argument, the teacher drew a comparison between using preferred pronouns and a hypothetical scenario where a student wanted to be identified as “earthly royalty or a judge” and be addressed as “Your Honour.” He claimed that these seemingly absurd examples employed the same logic as calling a girl a boy or a boy a girl, potentially leading to abuse. The teacher contended that it was inappropriate for a teacher to use such pronouns or expect teachers to address students as different animals. He maintained that there were no grounds for a misconduct charge and that he acted in the student’s best interest.

The tribunal, however, strongly disagreed, unequivocally deeming the teacher’s actions as serious misconduct. Deputy chair Tim MacKenzie wrote in the decision that the teacher’s refusal to respect the student’s wishes and the school’s instructions, combined with isolating and advising the student against their gender transition, posed a significant risk of harm. The tribunal commended the student for bravely handling the teacher’s conduct but emphasised that students should never have to negotiate compromises on such matters.

The tribunal acknowledged the teacher’s right to hold personal views and religious beliefs but concluded that he lacked the necessary insight and rehabilitative prospects to address his conduct. Based on his statements during the hearing, it expressed concern that similar behaviour would likely occur if the teacher were placed in a similar position again. The tribunal found the teacher’s submissions to be unrealistic and considered his references to homosexuality and abortion within the present context to be disgraceful.

As the appropriate course of action, the tribunal cancelled the teacher’s teaching license and ordered him to cover the costs. The teacher also resigned from his position at the school.

The Teaching Council of Aotearoa, New Zealand, reiterated its commitment to ensuring that all students feel safe, respected, and valued in schools. While unable to comment on specific cases, the Council emphasised the importance of adhering to the teaching code and respecting students’ personal identities.