New Zealand court cancels Christian teacher’s license for refusing trans pronouns


A New Zealand court has ruled in favor of canceling a Christian high school math teacher's license to teach after he refused to call a trans-identified student by a preferred name and pronouns.  

The New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal — an independent body with each panel chaired by a lawyer and two teachers — issued a decision against an unnamed math teacher in February. The ruling was made public on Monday. 

At issue was the teacher refusing to call a 14-year-old student, born female at birth, by the "preferred male name" because it went against his sincerely held Christian beliefs.  

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Deputy Chair Timothy MacKenzie authored the decision, writing that for the "teacher to not only ignore the student's wishes (and the instruction of the school), but also to isolate them and advise them it was wrong, risked quite significant harm." 

"Whilst the role of a teacher (particularly at a secondary school) will from time to time require the application of some paternalism in the lives of their students, this conduct was completely inappropriate and out of line," MacKenzie continued. 

"It risked belittling the student and minimizing the huge personal event occurring in [her] life. It transgressed well outside of the boundaries of a teacher's role."

The tribunal emphasized that it did not want to be viewed as "moving to punish" the teacher for his religious beliefs, claiming that the teacher "is entitled to his views and religious beliefs."

"What we must do is consider whether he has insight and rehabilitative prospects that we could address," the tribunal stated. "In our view, there is a real and appreciable risk that such conduct, or similar conduct, will be repeated by [the teacher] if he was to be in that position again. Indeed, given [the teacher's] statements to us, we would say that it is quite likely to occur again in similar circumstances." 

According to The New Zealand Herald, the teacher told the tribunal in February that he refused to accept the idea of gender transitioning in any way.

The teacher also reportedly rejected a proposed compromise by the trans-identified student to use a "preferred male name" while also continuing to use the she/her pronouns that correspond to the student's sex. 

During the February hearing, the teacher denied breaking any school rules. He also claimed that he felt as though calling the student by her preferred pronouns and name would be engaging in serious misconduct and child abuse.

The teacher claimed that anyone trying to change their gender identity needs "help and deliverance" and that the school is wrong for supporting the notion that "gender is a choice."

The teacher also reportedly compared preferred pronouns to students wanting to identify as "earthly royalty or a judge" and demanded to be referred to as "Your Honor." 

"Although these examples may seem absurd, they are the same logic as calling a girl a boy, or a boy a girl and may lead to abuse of teachers and others. Is it appropriate for a teacher to call a student by the pronoun 'Your Honour' or to expect teachers to refer to students as different animals?" the teacher said, as quoted by The Herald. 

In addition to the teacher's license being canceled, he reportedly resigned from his teaching position at the school. 

The Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand said in a statement released Monday that it supports the decision, stating that "the teacher should have applied the code and the values of the teaching profession, when asked by a student to use their preferred pronouns."

"All teachers are legally bound and regularly recommit to comply with the code, which sets out the commitments to the teaching profession, learners, families and whānau and society. In essence, it describes how a teacher must behave. When the code is broken, it can result in disciplinary action being taken," the TCANZ stated, as quoted by the Herald. 

"Teachers need to help learners to think critically about issues and understand different views, theories, perspectives and experiences and it is not okay for a teacher to use their authority to undermine the personal identity of their learners, or to inappropriately influence them to take a course of action." 

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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