from reader Selwyn

Ministry of Education Response to my Official Information Act (OIA) request about MENSTRUATING MALES

17 May 2023

Tēnā koe XX  (name removed for privacy)

OIA: 1308903 – New Zealand sex education curriculum

Thank you for your e-mail of 18 April 2023 to the Ministry of Education requesting the following information:

I am interested to see that the new NZ sex education curriculum has a part about everyone being able to menstruate (i.e. girls and boys) and that feminine hygiene products should no longer be called feminine hygiene products.

Please answer these questions:

• How do boys menstruate?

• When did this phenomenon of boys menstruating first occur?

• What does a boy menstruate from, given that he has no uterus?

• Where would a boy insert a tampon given that he has no vagina?

Note the prolific use of maori — straight out obfuscation.

Your request has been considered under the Official Information Act 1982 (the Act).

The material that you refer to in your email does not come from the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum material, but from a post on the Ministry’s Instagram page from  July 2022. The Ministry aims to use inclusive language in all our communications, including those regarding Ikura | Manaakitia te whare tangata – Period products in schools initiative.

The post aims to encourage people to be more mindful about how they discuss menstruation so as not to exclude members of our society. For example, a transgender man may menstruate while identifying as a male, and a non-binary person may also have a period, but not identify as any gender at all.

The Ministry believes that all young people deserve an education that supports them to become positive in their own identities and develop healthy relationships. We accept and are inclusive of the cultures, languages and identities, including gender, sex and sexuality identities, of all learners.

Wellington National Office, 1 The Terrace, Levels 5 to 14, Wellington 6011 PO Box 1666, Wellington 6140, DX SR51201 Phone: +64 4 463 8000

Delivering RSE to all ākonga in Years 1–10 is mandatory for state and state-integrated schools and kura. Schools and kura have the flexibility to design their own local curriculum and marau ā-kura, guided by the national curriculum.

Under the Education and Training Act 2020, school boards are legally required to consult with their school community at least every two years about their local health curriculum to ensure it meets the needs and aspirations of all their learners and whānau. This means that, while RSE is guided by the national curriculum, it will differ from school to school. The Act also sets out that schools must provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students and staff, including those who identify as trans or non-binary.

In 2020, the Ministry of Education released Relationships and Sexuality Education: a guide for teachers, leaders and boards of trustees in two volumes, for Years 1-8 and Years 9-13. When referring to gender identity, the guide encourages freedom of expression in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation. While the Ministry’s guidance is not mandatory for schools to use, it sets out good practice and expectations of key learning at all stages and ages and is also informed by our understanding of diverse family structures and shifting social norms in relation to gender and sexuality. You can find the guide here: policies/relationships-and-sexuality-education/.

Please note, we may publish this response on our website after five working days. Your name and contact details will be removed.

Thank you again for your email.

Nāku noa, nā

Sean Teddy

Hautū | Deputy Secretary, Te Mahau | Te Pae Aronui