Helen Houghton is Still a Shitty Person(TM)

By Penny Robo

Previously: Helen Houghton is a Shitty Person(TM)

Penny RoboA few weeks ago, Helen Houghton, the author of the “stop telling children LGBT people exist” petition in New Zealand decided to offer up a personal explanation for the petition. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t actually excuse any of the terrible things she’s said. Some rudimentary digging at the time of the previous article’s writing revealed a Helen Houghton in NZ who worked as a teacher, however I had opted not to include that information at the time as I could not confirm that this was the same individual and could not, in good conscience, place that person’s reputation in someone’s crosshairs, even indirectly. I stand by that choice even as we’ve now discovered that this was in fact the same person.

That’s right, Ms. “I believe that endorsing gender discordance as normal […] will confuse children and parents” is herself a teacher.

As laid out here on the New Zealand Christian Network, most assuredly an organization devoted to an unbiased view of education’s role in society, Helen Houghton goes on a long rant attempting to justify her personal objections. It’s the typical strawmanning one would expect, so I shant bore you with point-by-point refutations, but instead brazenly cherry-pick and laugh at her because she’s a terrible, terrible person and I’m sure enough of her fellow teachers have been calling her out on her nonsense already via Facebook.

First, she complains that people are judging her for her beliefs:

“I object to being branded as transphobic, simply for exercising my right to question critically what I as a teacher am being coerced into teaching to impressionable minds. I should be able safely to voice my human rights as an individual without being judged as transphobic or discriminatory.”

When your stated beliefs include judgments on others, aren’t others exercising their same rights by judging you right back? Why are your demands for critique-less responses only applicable to others and not you?

“My reasons for lodging the petition are to highlight the act of gross negligence [with the Ministry of Education’s plans] of ‘Inclusive Education’ for one minority group, leaving all other groups subservient to this biased view.”

Many minority groups are included in the curriculum, and it appears that the “biased view” that concerns her is that of trans people being accepted by the community at large, seeing as how she speaks in generalities (with fun mentions of “biology” at regular intervals without explanation of what biological truths she’s referencing – and one would imagine that would be intentional, to avoid any kind of fact-checking) and largely returns to “it’ll just confuse the children!” rhetoric.

“There has been no stipulated age-appropriateness of the resources provided by Rainbow Youth and InsideOUT meaning any teacher could use them at will, with any age group level.”

It’s almost as if these are general guidelines that have yet to be fully implemented, and could therefore be reasonably expected not to be fully fine-tuned as of yet! Oh, wait:

“My reasons for lodging the petition are to highlight the act of gross negligence that the Ministry of Education undertook by posting on Facebook their plans of ‘Inclusive Education’

That’s exactly what they are: stated intentions of curriculum changes and not cemented rules to abide by. Doh.

“This allows no room for conscientious objectors to withdraw and therefore schools will not be safe and inclusive for all students.”

This person refers to not wanting to teach that LGBT people exist as being a “conscientious objector” and is somehow appalled that people have labeled her transphobic. Got ourselves a real brain genius here! She then follows that up by equating the comfort of straight people with the safety of LGBT people. Those things do not have equal weight, and you’re a disingenuous piece of trash for even trying that line.

“Gender stereotypes that are taught are not what ordinary mums and dads assume them to be, as multiple genders are taught as biological facts”

There’s only one gender: New Zealand Christian Networker.

She proceeds to lay out general education guidelines for various age groups (wait, I thought there weren’t any guidelines for age-appropriateness of the materials? Whoa!) and offers her own commentary on how these are bad things. For 5-7 year old children, she objects to this:

“Dealing with bullying and harassment and speaking out for others (Turning children into Language Police and Trans-activists)”

That’s right, standing up for bullied children is a big no-no in this Christian’s handbook! And for the 7-9 year old crowd, she points out this:

“Identifying locally available health care services (How to get puberty blockers)”

Well, I doubt that’s the specific goal of that part of the curriculum, but even if it were, that would actually align with the medical consensus for trans youth, so, you know, so much for that whole objection to the curriculum being based in a supposed subservience  to demonstrable truth, eh? Seriously, you’re promoting both active and passive harm to children, how can you sleep at night?

For the 11-13 year old students, this is her complaint:

“Critiquing dominant messages about body image and body size, and affirming diversity. (Note: Affirming diversity, not simply understanding it.)”

I audibly gasped, too, it’s okay. Her problem with this teaching is that it says it’s okay to be different. Different body sizes and shapes and skin colors and sexualities and identities are something to be, at most, tolerated. Diversity is not the spice of this woman’s life, apparently. In her world, IDIC isn’t a Vulcan axiom, but the name of an IoE back massager in a SkyMall catalog.

“The prescribed curriculum teaching multiple genders undermines the human rights of individual teachers”

I don’t think she knows what human rights are. Also…

There’s only one gender: New Zealand Christian Networker.

“Teachers also do not have a right to go against the family values of their students”

Do you think she’d feel this way if the “family values” of a student’s family included gems such as “The 14 Words”?

The full text of her statement is of course linked at the beginning of this piece, and I highly encourage you to read it to fully grasp the intellectual back-breaking she performs not to undermine her position at every single turn. As if the original petition wasn’t already a callous and grotesque rejection of the concept of natural and healthy diversity in human experiences and identities, her newer statement is a more fully realized (but no less poorly thought out) presentation of that same bigoted mindset. I sincerely doubt that she’ll ever come around to see how harmful her beliefs and actions are to those she claims to be protecting, but I also sincerely hope that she will.

The world deserves less of this nonsense.

About Zinnia Jones

My work focuses on insights to be found across transgender healthcare, public health, psychiatry, and history of medicine, integrating these many perspectives and guided by the lived experiences of trans people. I live in Orlando with my family, and work mainly in technical writing.
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