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May 29, 2017 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

NZ indirectly killing LGBTQ+ youth? It’s more likely than you think

I’m assuming the shocking title drew you in, but after reading this, maybe you won’t find it so shocking anymore. Everything is ka pai for the queers in NZ, right? Maybe that requires some more thought… Just because our government isn’t encouraging families to kill off their queer family members doesn’t mean LGBTQ+ people (young or old) in New Zealand are done fighting for our rights, and for our lives. Let’s reopen this conversation — forget what the media tells us about “progressive NZ” and listen up.

  • Starting with the wait for surgery (only an option for those over 18+). Transgender people who wish to have gender affirming surgery in New Zealand’s public health system have to wait for it. Maybe eight months, right? Up to a year? Not quite. With the current rate that these surgeries are taking place, the estimated wait is 50+ years. If you choose to go private with this operation, you would be facing fees up to $20,000. A life saving surgery not being publicly funded? But how could this be? My dear reader, sadly, the answer would be: transphobia in our health sector. Note: You must first be “diagnosed” with Gender Identity Disorder before having any kind of hormone therapy or surgery in NZ.
  • Recently the Ministry of Education added LGBTQ+ friendly guidelines to teaching sex and sexuality education in secondary schools. But, alas, it is up to the individual teacher if they choose to include this information or not. Our youth are missing the opportunity to learn how to have healthy sex and understand their own identities. In 2016 RNZ reported then Education Minister Hekia Parata saying that the Ministry had given schools guidance about how to make sure students from “diverse” backgrounds felt included, but the government could not and would not tell self-managing schools what to do. So they’ll include the information that’s needed but just not enforce the teaching of it. Interesting logic.
  • Students, aged 14 and 15, from Queen Margaret’s College in Wellington had to involve Community Law before their school would let them set up a LGBTQ+ support group. And once the group was set up, the students were not allowed to advertise for it and only senior students could attend. Similar circumstances have occurred in other religious New Zealand secondary schools. Our youth are being prevented from meeting and making connections with one another… and fair enough; what if they try to overthrow this cisnormative heterosexual society we live in? It’d be madness, am I right?!
  • And now for the statistics! It has been found by Rainbow Youth that up to 40% of those who are homeless in New Zealand, under the age of 25, identify as LGBTQ+. In 2012 Auckland University undertook a survey of 8500 secondary students. They found that one in five transgender students had attempted suicide in the last year, and 40% had self harmed in the last year. They were five times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. In 2009 Rainbow Youth reported similar findings for gay/bi students; they were three times more likely to be bullied at school. Gay teens were found to be five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. It’s almost as if… homophobia and transphobia… kills?? Gasp.

Alright. In all seriousness: we’re here, we’re queer, and our youth are dying. It’s a result of a society that thinks we’re done working for our equality when, really, we’ve barely even touched the surface of LGBTQ+ rights in New Zealand. So, what are you going to do about it?


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