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ParentsFebruary 24, 2017

Four things you can do when hate groups like Family First attack children

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The NZ Herald hosting a video attacking children for the bathrooms they use at a New Zealand high school has shone a spotlight on the hate promulgated by Family First. Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes shares some advice on how families can fight back.

The hate group Family First is at it again. This time Bob McCoskrie and his perverted vocal minority are trying to get us to bully children about the toilets they use.

He has travelled the length of the country to find a young woman to attack another young woman in an abhorrent and revolting act of transphobia.

So what can you do when you see Bob in the media (again) talking about the genitals of children and saying there are some children we should not protect because they are not the gender they were assigned at birth?

I have a couple of ideas – and I’d like to hear yours. If you’d like to add to this post please email me at

1)      Educate yourself

  • Read and share resources so you can educate ignorant hate monsters like Bob. If you’re cisgender (meaning you are the gender you were assigned at birth) listen to transgender, takatāpui and gender-diverse folks instead of talking over them. Once you know better you can do better.
  • Start with this – what not to say.
  • Learn about Gender. At a most basic starting point this from Gender Spectrum helps:

Gender is about three things:

1) Our bodies (gender biology) – when a baby is born it is assigned a gender based on appearance.

2) How we dress (gender expression) – How our child expresses themselves to the world.

3) And how we feel inside (gender identity) – How our child wants us to know them because of who they are.

If all of these things are the same – you or your child are likely to be cisgender. Read more here. You need to know that gender is not: “Do you have a penis or vagina?” It is also not: “Are you gay or hetero?” Sex is not gender. There are more than two genders. Gender is not sexuality.

From Rainbow Youth AotearoaSometimes people get confused about the difference between gender and sex. Gender refers to the gender that someone identifies with, while sex is usually refers to the sex someone is assigned at birth. It can be helpful to think of it as: sex is between your legs and gender is in your head/heart.

2)      Make a commitment to protect children – yours, mine, and everyone else’s

  • Make sure your home is a safe place for your child to explore their gender identity. It’s hugely important that you respect pronouns. Never ever use the pronoun for a child that they do not want you to use – it’s a violent act. Read Scout Barbour-Evans’ post on how to support your children through questions about gender identity.
  • Here’s a gender identity flow chart that might be useful for your child to consider if they are asking questions about their own gender identity.
  • Provide them with resources for a support group – RainbowYOUTH runs a group specifically for young people who are gender diverse or questioning their gender. There’s also OUTLine NZ 0800 OUTLINE (6885463) which offers toll-free phone counselling and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
  • Rainbow Youth has an incredible map of the country where children can find their whānau and community and get the love and support they need.
  • Support them in finding friends who understand what they’re going through. That means not restricting their access to the internet. A place like Tumblr has resources like this for transgender and genderqueer kids – it’s vital you don’t cut their link to what might be the only other kids who get what they’re going through.
  • Here’s a basics guide from the Human Rights Commission on transgender youth and children. Here’s an interview with an expert in child health and medicine answering the question “How do I know if my child is transgender?”
  • Here’s excellent advice from Rainbow Youth on supporting your child. Or if you’re in Wellington ask Mother’s Network about their group for mums of gender diverse kids.
  • Ensure your child’s kindy, school, or high school has support from Rainbow Youth or InsideOut or some other LGBTQI youth organisation and is equipped to support all children. Ask them about their bathroom policy. It seems so incredibly basic – but jeez, make sure that kids can go to the bathroom. If they don’t have a bathroom access policy, make sure they do.
  • Join a support group for parents of LGBTQI kids so you can get support if you need it, so that you can do your job – which is to love and support your child.

Most importantly, and this should not be hard for any parent: LOVE YOUR CHILD. I don’t understand how you couldn’t but people like Bob exist so it’s possible. Be a home to kids who have parents like him. Take them in – show them they are loved, so loved. Be the parent they don’t have. Be the parent they need.

A recent survey of NZ kids found around 40% of transgender students had significant depressive symptoms and nearly half had self-harmed in the previous 12 months. One in five transgender students had attempted suicide in the last year.

We cannot lose our kids like this. We just cannot lose our kids.

3)      Call media out

  • When a media organisation publishes Bob McCoskrie’s hate for no reason at all other than that he called them and they knew it would get them some page views – call them on it. Email them and ask them not to use their platform to attack defenceless children.
  • Gender Minorities Aotearoa have a great guide for advocacy here. It is an amazing resource that outlines how to: Write a letter to the editor, Make a media release/press release, and Make a submission to parliament.
  • Report them to the Press Council – Complaints about Bob’s latest hate campaign against a child hosted by NZ Herald could be laid under principle three: In cases involving children and young people editors must demonstrate an exceptional degree of public interest to override the interests of the child or young person. 
  • Make complaints about hateful reporting to the Human Rights Commission – Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 states “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” As TransMediaWatch [pdf] says: “Being trans does not negate a person’s right to privacy any more than race, disability or any other such naturally occurring characteristic”.
  • If they insist on publishing hate speech then you should insist that they use factual information in their stories – rather than just Bob’s hysterical disgusting red-faced ranting.
  • Insist they use the correct language and terminology when reporting about transgender, intersex and takatāpui children.

4)     Donate, donate, donate!

  • Every time that stain on humanity Bob opens his horrible mouth I donate to an organisation that saves the lives of kids. Donate to places like Rainbow Youth, InsideOut,Gender Minorities Aotearoa, Outline or any other community organisation listed here.
  • If you can’t make a donation, support initiatives like the I’m Local Project. The I’m Local Project aims to help queer & gender diverse youth all over Aotearoa to feel valued, recognised and supported in their local communities. It focuses on contacting high schools, medical centres, hospitals, libraries, marae and community centres in more rural or isolated area of Aotearoa and supplying them with free resources about gender and sexuality.
  • You can join the I’m Local Project for free resources. Spread the word – get your employer, kindy, school, GP, everybody to get on board.
  • If you donate to Rainbow Youth you can even make the donation on Bob’s behalf.

All of the groups I’ve mentioned in this post are full of the most incredible people. They are saving the lives of our kids. They are doing everything they can to protect our kids. Kids are dying because of hate.

If you’re not already fighting for these kids, you need to be.

Don’t just get angry – do something. Act and protect our kids.

Emily Writes is editor of The Spinoff Parents. Follow her on Facebook here. 

Follow the Spinoff Parents on Facebook and Twitter.

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