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Unrestricted Classification For Sex Education Book

Te Mana Whakaatu Classification Office’s ‘Unrestricted’ classification for the book Welcome to Sex! allows parents and whānau to decide if the educational resource is right for their teenagers.

Chief Censor Caroline Flora says the Office determined that the publication, written by Dr Melissa Kang and Yumi Stynes, is an educational book for teenagers.

“For young people seeking information about sex, resources like this provide an alternative to pornography or other material online that could be harmful. The classification allows parents to determine if its right for their teens.”

“Restricting this publication would take away the ability of parents and whānau to use this publication as an educational tool in discussions around sex,” she says. “It would also make this educational resource less accessible than online pornography, which we know from our previous research is often the ‘go-to’ for young people curious to find out more about sex.”

“For us it was a very straightforward decision. Our legislation is very clear as to what constitutes an ‘Objectionable’ (i.e. banned or illegal) publication, or why a publication should be restricted in some other way. To meet the legal threshold the availability of this publication would have to be ‘injurious to the public good’.”

Ms Flora says that the Office instead found the publication to be an educational resource written in plain language and combined with simple, but colourful (non-erotic), illustrations. “The book is clearly about sex. It is written in very large letters on the front cover so is unlikely to be mistaken for a book on another subject.”

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The Office will, however, be advising libraries and booksellers to consider how they display the book, as it is a publication that is more suitable for teenagers or for parents as an educational tool.

“The labelling regime for books is different from films and does not provide us with the option to label unrestricted content. If it did, we would have labelled this ‘M’ like we can do with films and streaming content. This flags to parents that they might like to review the content first to decide whether or not it is suitable for their younger teenagers.” says Ms Flora.

Background

The Office received 15 original requests for the book Welcome to Sex! to be classified. Following this, the book was classified under section 13(1)(c) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (the Act).

In considering its classification the Office invited the publisher, library associations, the Booksellers Association and Department of Internal Affairs to make submissions, along with the 15 members of the public who made initial requests for the book to be classified.

We subsequently received over 400 additional emails from members of the public requesting that the book be classified.

Ms Flora says the original submitter and members of the public were calling for a classification which restricts the book. The publisher and the representative organisations submitted that the book should be unrestricted.

Decision

A full copy of the decision is available here.

Anyone wishing to appeal the decision can do so within 20 working days, see the Classification Office website for information on this process.

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