Legal Advice on PPTA ‘Guidelines’ Sent To Every School

31 May 2017

Attention: Every Chairperson / Every Principal
Every School
Email address

Dear Principal / Chairperson

LEGAL OPINION – PPTA Guidelines On ‘Gender Identity’ & Policies On Toilets, Changing Rooms And Sports Teams

With the release of the PPTA Guidelines on “Affirming diversity of sexualities and gender identities in the school community”, Family First NZ wishes to remind you of the legal opinion for schools obtained just last year that says that schools are not required under the law to have to allow ‘transgender’ students access to shared toilets, showers and changing rooms, or allow ‘transgender’ students to participate in sports teams that do not match their biological sex.

The Legal Opinion << which can be downloaded here >> examines the Education Act, Bill of Rights Act, Human Rights Act and case law, and says that limiting access to shared toilets, showers and changing rooms based on sex has long been considered appropriate given the need to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for all students. Limiting participation in sports teams on the basis of sex has also been about providing a safe physical environment particularly in the contexts of sports that involve physical contact and a physical contest of strength.

The opinion says that such concerns are prescribed by the national educational guidelines and are legitimate concerns, and that it is “overly simplistic and incorrect to say that schools are required to give transgender students access to shared toilets, showers and changing rooms.” The opinion does however acknowledge that schools need to consider and address the needs of ‘transgender’ students in a reasonable manner.

This Opinion is timely and significant, and notably, has not be challenged or rebutted in any way by The Human Rights Commission or any governmental group.

We have been contacted by a number of concerned principals and by many many parents who believe that schools are being pressured by government and advocacy groups into adopting policies around uniforms, toilets, changing rooms and showers, and sports teams. This Legal Opinion will give important information to Principals and Boards of Trustees who want to act in the best interests of the whole school community without fear of breaching the law.

The biology and science is clear. A recently released report which analysed over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences, concluded:

  • The belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex – so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ – is not supported by scientific evidence.
  • Only a minority of young people who express gender-atypical thoughts or behaviour will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is no evidence that all such children and young people should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery.

We believe that the PPTA should place priority on scientific evidence and sound medical practice, rather than bowing to ideology and special interest groups pushing an agenda.

We also believe schools have a duty to protect the privacy, safety and dignity of all students. Students have a fundamental right to bodily privacy. What should young girls who are uncomfortable or intimidated by the presence of a male in their bathroom or changing room do, particularly young girls who have been victims of sexual abuse by a male? Is it safe for a young female student to be in an intimate facility with adolescent or older males?

We have male and female changing rooms because of biology, not because of ‘gender identity’. Separate facilities reflect the fact that boys and girls have bodily differences; they are designed to protect privacy related to our bodies. Is it safe for a boy to be playing in the girls’ rugby team?

As well as the Legal Opinion, we have also included a proposed “Student Physical Privacy Policy<< which can be downloaded here >> relating to toilets, changing rooms, and sports teams which may be useful to you when considering this issue in your own school. The suggested policy says that schools must be both respectful of the privacy concerns of all children and sensitive to the diverse needs of individual children, but that no child should be forced into an intimate setting – like a toilet block or a changing room – with another child of the opposite sex. The policy suggests that the Principal may offer options for alternate facilities, which may be access to a single-stall toilet; access to a unisex toilet; or controlled use of a staff toilet, changing room, or shower.

Students with gender dissatisfaction must be given the very best support we can and handled with love and care, but ignoring biology is not a proper solution.

READ the Legal Opinion.
READ the suggested Student Physical Privacy Policy

We trust that this information will be a valuable resource for both your Board of Trustees and the Principal as you tackle this difficult issue. Thank you for your important leadership.

Yours sincerely 





Bob McCoskrie MCom(Hons), Dip.Tchg, CA(Ret’d), JP
National Director

Background Note:
In June 2015, Family First released a report BOYS GIRLS OTHER – Making Sense of the Confusing New World of Gender Identity which drew from decades of mainstream academic and international research, and sought to bring clarity to this topic and practical advice for schools, parents and community leaders, for the wellbeing of children.