School children
A viral claim is related to children as young as five in NZ schools. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

No, five-year-olds are not made to question their gender

Lachlan Coady April 28, 2023

Five-year-olds are made to question their gender as part of New Zealand Ministry of Education guidelines.


False: The claim is not featured in the guidelines or policy documents. Neither are several other claims made in the post.

It is being claimed five-year-olds are made to question their gender as part of New Zealand Ministry of Education guidelines.

A viral post also claims the guidelines prompt schools to set up “on-site gender clinics” to “aide a child’s transition” and hold a “pronoun name-tag day”.

The claims are false. There is nothing within the guidelines or policy documents to support the claims. The Ministry of Education confirmed the claims are false.

One of the posts shared on Facebook
 The post features a list of six claims. 

The post (archived here) features a screenshot of a list of six claims.

As well as those mentioned above, the claims include that there is no opt-out option to a school-wide approach to sexuality education; that teachers are to affirm a child’s chosen identity and keep it secret from their parents and that five to eight-year-olds are taught about “making babies and sexual pleasure”.

The post has been shared widely across NZ Facebook accounts, examples here, here, here and here.

The post cites two sources to support the claims: The ministry’s Sexuality education: a guide for principals, board of trustees and teachers (which includes separate guides for years 1-8 and years 9-13) and the ministry’s Inclusive Education website which features several documents featuring “practical guidance” for teachers and educational leaders.

AAP FactCheck searched all of the above documents for any mention of the six claims. They are either grossly exaggerated, presented out of context or completely made up.

Firstly, there is nothing to support the claim five-year-olds are being made to question their gender and being taught about multiple genders.

The sexuality education guide (years 1-8) features a framework for key learning outcomes at each curriculum level.

Five-year-olds fall under curriculum level one. At level one, the guide (page 30) states children should be able to recognise body parts, understand basic concepts about reproduction and know about body safety and hygiene.

Additionally, the guide states students should be able to make friends, be inclusive, express their feelings and understand the relationship between gender, identity and well-being.

There is no mention of children being made to question their gender or being taught about multiple genders.

The claim that five to eight-year-olds are taught about “making babies” and “sexual pleasure” is mostly false.

The stated age range crosses into curriculum level two. The level two framework (page 31) states children should know about human anatomy, how bodies are diverse and about “human reproductive processes”. 

However, there is no mention of “sexual pleasure”.

School girl
 It’s claimed there is no option to opt out of sex education in NZ schools. 

The “no-opt out” claim is also false. Page 43 of the years 1-8 guide and page 49 of the years 9-13 guide feature a section on “the right to withdraw children”.

It reads: “…parents or caregivers may write to the principal requesting to have their child excluded from any particular element of sexuality education in a health education programme. The principal is required to ensure that the student is excluded from the relevant tuition and that the student is supervised during that time.”

There is also nothing within the cited documents to support the claim teachers should keep a child’s chosen identity secret from parents.

A ministry representative told AAP FactCheck there was no truth to this claim. 

Within the guides, pages 36 and 42 only state that: “Ākonga (student) should be addressed by their preferred name and pronouns”.

AAP FactCheck could find no mention of “gender clinics to aide a child’s transition” or “pronoun name-tag” days in any of the documents and guides.

The sexuality education guides do provide advice on how to ensure schools are inclusive with regard to gender identity. For example, on Page 21 it suggests students should be addressed by their pronoun of choice and that uniform policies are reviewed to not “reinforce outdated, Eurocentric or exclusionary notions of gender.”

AAP FactCheck also found no evidence to support any of the claims in the guides on the Inclusive Education website.

Regardless, the guides are not ministry guidelines or policy and instead a “collection of evidence-based strategies and case studies to support educators“.

The ministry representative confirmed the claims made in the viral post have no basis in fact.

The Verdict

The claim that a post shows New Zealand Ministry of Education guidelines relating to sexuality and gender is false.

There is nothing within policy or guideline documents to support the claims. 

The Ministry of Education confirmed the claims have no basis in fact.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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