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Diversity and inclusion on school camp

 EONZ has created two ‘diversity and inclusion on school camp’ letters – one for primary/intermediate schools and one for secondary schools.

These letters are for schools to share with parents and whānau about how they will manage and support diversity and inclusion on school camp (and EOTC). These letters are relevant for ALL students | ākonga and their whānau, not just for female students of menstruating age.

Information for schools

If you decide to use these letters, it is critical that you adapt them to reflect your school’s context and policies.

The letters include:

  • Details about the school’s values (specifically equity and inclusion) how they relate to school camp. [Note: You will need to specify your school’s values if they don’t include equity and inclusion].
  • Introduces/refers to the school’s Diversity and Inclusion policy.
  • Explains what the school has done to prepare students for camp and how students will be supported during camp (regarding menstruating and rainbow-specific needs).
  • Provides information about how whānau | parents can support and prepare their child for camp regarding menstruation.

Below we have included some advice about how to adapt/implement the ideas presented in the letters.

To access the letter template for primary and intermediate schools, click here.

To access the letter template for secondary schools, click here.

What are the benefits of sending a ‘diversity and inclusion on camp’ letter to parents | whānau?

The letter has multiple benefits as it outline the school’s values, how the school will prioritise and cater for ākonga wellbeing, and the expected roles and responsibilities of ākonga, whānau and the school regarding diversity and inclusion. Being clear about these things from the outset can help to manage people’s expectations, supports the consistent use of inclusion and wellbeing policies, and can also be useful when dealing with challenging situations that may arise.  

What do we (as a school) need to before sending out a ‘diversity and inclusion’ letter

Before sharing the letter, it's really important that your school is already doing (and feels confident doing) the things outline in the letter. For example, you have a Diversity and Inclusion policy (or something similar), and it defines the term ‘rainbow young people' and any unique considerations needed for this group of students.

Similarly, your school should have measures in place for rainbow ākonga to feel comfortable approaching school staff about making a camp support plan. However, some rainbow students might still find it difficult to ask their teachers for this support, so before every camp it’s important that teachers explicitly offer an open opportunity for any rainbow students to work with staff and whānau (if they wish their whānau to be involved in this process. Be aware that some students may not be ‘out’ to their family).

These practices and conversations are also connected to wider policies about making school camp an inclusive experience for rainbow students, e.g., sleeping arrangements and gendered activities.

What is a Diversity and Inclusion policy, why is it important, and how does my school develop one?

A Diversity and Inclusion policy is an important document that every school should have. It outlines how your school will care for and respond to the wellbeing needs of all ākonga and staff. Your school may have another name for this policy; however, such policies commonly include information about how the school will fulfill its ‘inclusion’ obligations and goals by defining key terms and detailing relevant processes and procedures.

If your school doesn’t currently have a Diversity and Inclusion policy, we recommend you read the ‘Creating rainbow inclusive school policies and procedures’ resource by InsideOUT. If your school already has a Diversity and Inclusion policy, make sure that it specifically references rainbow ākonga, and that it is regularly reviewed and updated. It’s also important that all staff and students have easy access to the policy (and know where to access it).


What happens if we get a negative response from our school community | hapori about the letter?

Some people in your hapori may disagree with, or struggle to see why it is important for schools to develop and implement a Diversity and Inclusion policy. Before sending the letter, it’s important to discuss how the school will navigate any negative responses. For example, what is the consistent message the school wants to convey, and who will respond (will it be a specific person like the principal, or will all staff be supported to appropriately respond)?

A good approach is to reiterate the school’s responsibility to care for all students. This means that regardless of how a student identifies or expresses themselves, the school will ensure their wellbeing and safety needs are met. Often, caregivers/whānau of non-rainbow students are more concerned about the situation than their children are. Any actions arising from a negative response should prioritise the wellbeing and safety of the rainbow ākonga, as they are much more likely to experience harassment and exclusion than any risk they pose to their peers. Reach out to organisations like InsideOUT if you need additional support or guidance.

Where can I get more information and support about menstruation and rainbow-inclusive practices?

  • The letter includes two recommended websites that whānau and caregivers can visit if they want more information about menstruation. We suggest you become familiar with the information offered on these sites as well.

                Family Planning: https://www.familyplanning.org.nz/advice/periods/periods

                The Period Place: https://www.theperiodplace.co.nz/educational-resources

          We also recommend the following organisations/resources for menstruation and rainbow-related information:

                EONZ – Going with the flow: Menstruation and rainbow-inclusive practices in the outdoors: https://eonz.org.nz/menstruation-and-rainbow-inclusive-practices/

                InsideOUT: https://insideout.org.nz/

                Ministry of Education – Relationships and sexuality education: A guide for teachers, leaders and boards of trustees: https://hpe.tki.org.nz/guidelines-and-policies/relationships-and-sexuality-education/

                Ministry of Education – Inclusive Education: Guide to LGBTIQA+ students                 https://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/supporting-lgbtiqa-students/

  • Camp support plan: InsideOUT has a gender transition support plan template available to download on their website (link below). While this is typically used for students who are transitioning while they are based at school, the plan can be adapted to suit a camping/EOTC experience. Ask for support from colleagues with experience in this area, and work with your rainbow ākonga to decide what is relevant and what is missing on the template.


Information for camp and activity providers

 When working with schools, it’s good practice to follow the school’s Diversity and Inclusion policy. Become familiar with the legislation that schools must follow, and the common resources informing their policies and practices (such as those noted above in the ‘Information for Schools’ section). Encourage schools to send out a ‘diversity and inclusion at camp’ letter as part of their communication to whānau.

As part of your pre-visit checklist, ask whether the school has any ākonga requiring specific support. During this conversation, you should discuss how menstruating students will be supported/included in remote or water-based activities (so they can communicate this to whānau and ākonga), and important information regarding rainbow students, like their pronouns or sleeping arrangements. Check whether rainbow students have a camp support plan.

Camp and activity providers should also have their own Diversity and Inclusion policy, which details how they will meet the needs of diverse participants. You might also like to adapt one of the letters to share with non-school participants before their visit.

If a school doesn’t have a Diversity and Inclusion policy, we encourage you to point them to this website and the ‘Going with the flow’ resource. In this situation, it may be more appropriate to use (or adapt) your organisation’s Diversity and Inclusion policy for their visit (although this isn’t a long-term solution).