Parents take legal action against Welsh Government over compulsory sex education

Parents are taking legal action against the Welsh Government over plans for compulsory relationship and sex education in schools. The non-party political group Public Child Protection Wales is taking legal action against the government to remove Relationship and Sex Education from the curriculum and to prevent it from being compulsory in schools.

The group have said parents are being “denied their time-honoured right” to remove their child from sex education. The new curriculum for schools in Wales, which will begin in September 2022, will mean that parents will no longer be able to remove their children from sex education classes.

Earlier this year, in February 2022, the group protested outside the Senedd, saying they don’t trust the government or teachers with what will be taught. In response to the change in the curriculum, the Public Child Protection Wales group is taking the Welsh Government to High Court and has instructed human rights barrister Paul Diamond to represent them.

The Welsh government has issued a statement saying they are disappointed that the group continues to “promote incorrect and misleading claims”. Papers have currently been filed to the High Court and a response is expected in early May 2022.

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The group is also fundraising for the case and so far has raised £13,000 out of the £100,000 they need. Lucia Thomas, from Porthcawl and who is part of Public Child Protection Wales said: “We are deeply concerned that in our current culture, there is a progressive, aggressive lobby which is seeking to push onto children and young people ideologies which parents would find inappropriate.”

The group have said said they are not against safeguarding or age-appropriate biology being taught in schools

Lucia added: “The new Bill plays on the emotions of children and can unnecessarily confuse them. This is nothing short of a breach of Safeguarding – and it’s being committed by our government!”

Public Child Protection Wales said they are not against safeguarding or age-appropriate biology being taught in schools and “fully support” minority rights in terms of welfare and freedom of choice. Paul will also be arguing for a Protected Cost Order, which individuals and non-profit organisations often use when taking public bodies to court to avoid any huge bills.

The new rules on relationship and sex education in schools mean that it will be mandatory from age 3-16 in the new Curriculum for Wales and will be taught in both primary and secondary schools.

That replaces the current requirement for sex education in secondary schools. Under RSE, learners will learn about sex in a biological sense and also the concept of sexuality and what constitutes a healthy (and an unhealthy) relationship.

Teaching of RSE will be guided by a statutory code which was approved by the Senedd and published in January. The Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Cod code says RSE must be age appropriate and cover three “strands”:

  • Relationships and identity
  • Sexual health and well-being
  • Empowerment, safety and respect.

The code includes advice on how these elements will be delivered from age three, from age seven and from age 11. The 14-page document states “The Welsh Government (is)committed to covering the following themes in RSE: relationships; rights and equity; sex, gender and sexuality; bodies and body image; sexual health and well-being; and violence, safety and support.

“To assist schools and settings in their planning of RSE, these themes are interwoven into the learning strands. Across the learning strands, curriculum content in RSE must be inclusive and reflect diversity.

“It must include learning that develops learners’ awareness and understanding of different identities, views and values and a diversity of relationships, gender and sexuality, including LGBTQ+ lives. The Act requires that RSE schools provide must be “developmentally appropriate”.

A spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that this group continues to promote incorrect and misleading claims about Relationships and Sexuality Education in Wales’s new curriculum. Topics like online safety, consent, and sexual health are all included in the Code, but at developmentally appropriate stages so learners aren’t exposed to things that aren’t appropriate to their age and development.

“At a younger age, for example, children will be taught about treating each other with kindness and empathy. As children grow older, they will gain an understanding of topics such as online safety, consent, and sexual health – all of which will be handled in a sensitive way. These reforms have been welcomed by a number of respected organisations including the NSPCC, the Children’s Commissioner’s Office, and Welsh Women’s Aid.”