New Zealand school shuts down because it can’t practice conversion therapy any more

Kaitaia Abundant Life School in New Zealand

A school in Northland, Aotearoa New Zealand, is shutting down by the end of June because it is no longer allowed to practice conversion therapy.

The practise was banned in the country in early 2022, with near-unanimous support across parliament.

Kaitaia Abundant Life School, which has about 200 primary and high school students, is shutting its doors as a result, saying the law means they can no longer operate under Christian values.

School spokesperson Ivy Tan told 1News “it’s horrendous” to not be able to “offer support” to students.

“Students that maybe experiencing unwanted feelings towards the same sex, and this is not a usual thing when we look at the development of people.”

New Zealand’s minister of education, Jan Tinetti, was unapologetic to the school, the outlet reported.

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She said there was an expectation, and always had been, that schools did their best to support students.

“Now that means all of our rainbow kids as well.”

The minister made it clear that the decision to close was the school’s alone, and did not come from the ministry, which had not signed off on its closure.

Tinetti said: “The schools are doing it for their reasons. If they’re unable to accommodate looking after all the young people that are in front of them, then they’re making the best decision for them.

“I have an expectation that all schools support all of their students and do know lots of special character schools, lots of Christian schools that do that really well,” she added.

Shaneel Lal, the co-founder of Conversion Therapy Action Group which spearheaded the ban in Aotearoa, said “good riddance” to the school closing in a tweet.

In another tweet, it highlighted that the progressive country can still improve its way of life for LGBTQ+ persons.

“People are like ‘New Zealand isn’t homophobic, or transphobic’. My friends, a school is closing because they can no longer practice conversion therapy. That is how much parts of this country hate queer people. We are very much a country that needs to look in our own backyard.”

Another prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist, Max Tweedie, described it as “incredible news” and proof of “the law working as intended“.

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