Health, safety, and wellbeing
Your right to enrol and attend school regardless of gender and identity
Schools cannot refuse to enrol you because of your gender identity. You have the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of “sex”, which includes gender and gender identity – see “Discrimination in schools” earlier in this chapter.
Single-sex schools can refuse to enrol students based on gender, and this is not treated as discriminatory.
For example, you do not have an automatic right to go to an all-boys school if you are a girl, although the Minister of Education can allow this – see below.
Can I go to a single-sex school if I’m trans?
It depends. You have a right to enrol in a single-sex school that matches your identity because of anti-discrimination laws explained above.
New Zealand law allows for single-sex schools which is why all-boys schools do not have to enrol girls, for example. However, the Minister of Education can allow a certain number of boys to enrol at a girls’ school and vice versa.
So, if you are attending a girls’ school and beginning to transition and/or identify as trans, you can stay at your current school. You will need to talk to your school about this, as the Education and Training Act sets out a process to follow.
Schools usually ask all students for evidence of identity, like your birth certificate or passport. A school can’t ask you for extra evidence that they’re not asking of other students.
The school can ask for proof of your intention to transition (medical evidence) when you enrol if your identity documents do not show your correct gender marker. If you have legally updated your gender, you do not need to provide the school with medical evidence for this.
Does the school have to recognise my gender identity on their records?
You can ask your school to list your chosen gender. If they don’t change your records, they must attach your version of the information to your file.
As part of freedom from discrimination your gender should be recognised. Under the Privacy Act, you have the right for the information your school holds about you to be correct.
The school should also recognise your right to privacy, and not disclose your gender identity to others without your permission unless necessary.
If you are having problems with getting your school to recognise your gender:
- Talk to the school first
- The next step is to make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission – you can do this online at www.hrc.co.nz
For help writing a complaint, you can contact Community Law’s Student Rights Service on 0800 499 488.
Bathrooms and changing rooms
Schools are not legally required to have gender-neutral bathrooms, but they are expected to review their facilities and make sure the school is a safe place.
The Ministry of Education’s Sexuality Education guidelines (2020) states that trans, non-binary and intersex ākonga should be able to choose a toilet and changing room that matches their gender indentity. This includes allowing students to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity or offering gender neutral bathrooms.
The school does not have gender neutral bathrooms or changing rooms – what can I do about this?
You should talk to your teacher or principal, or write to the school board.
If a school does offer gender neutral bathrooms, each facility must:
- be in a self-contained unit,
- have full height doors and walls to maintain full privacy, and
- contain a toilet, basin and sanitary item disposal area.
Schools don’t have to provide separate toilet facilities for male and female students. If you’re asking your school to review their toilet facilities, it may help your case to remind them of this.
If a school does not have uniform options available, they should make sure there are different options available when uniforms come up for review. Like making pants, shorts or skirts available for everyone.
The Human Rights Commission has said that transgender students should be able to wear the uniform that matches their gender identity. The Ministry of Education says that all students should be able to wear any uniform items that are available.