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Parents lose legal challenge against Welsh Government’s sex education policy

22 Dec 2022 3 minute read
School children during class at a primary school. Photo Danny Lawson PA Images

Parents have lost a legal challenge against the teaching of young children about gender identity and sex in primary schools across Wales, with Mrs Justice Steyn rejecting a judicial review.

Campaigners launched a judicial review in the High Court against the Welsh Government’s new relationships and sexuality education curriculum.

The curriculum was launched in September and sees the mandatory teaching of relationships and sexuality education to pupils from the age of seven.

The two-day legal challenge, which was heard in November at the Civil Justice Centre in Cardiff, was brought by Public Child Protection Wales, which says the new curriculum is inappropriate for primary age children.

Moral objections

In written arguments, Paul Diamond, representing the claimants, said the legal challenge centred on the “whole-school approach” of the new curriculum – and it was not subject to any rights of parental excusal.

Mr Diamond said the claimants were five parents – four mothers and one father – with children ranging in age from nine to teenagers.

Some of the children attend state schools while others have been removed due to concerns about the curriculum.

“All five claimants have moral and philosophical objections to the proposed curriculum and would wish to exercise rights of excusal on behalf of their children in relation to the provision of any such classes,” Mr Diamond said.

“The proposed teaching of Relationships and Sexuality Education in Wales is specifically constructed to be value-laden since much of the teaching, particularly that regarding LGBTQ+, will concern not facts of a scientific nature but highly contentious theories relating to moral and behavioural choices made by individuals.

“Were it to be taught as a stand-alone class and subject to a right of excusal, there would clearly not be any possibility of indoctrination.

“At stake in the present case is the question of whether there is any limit to what can be taught to children in schools or, ultimately, any place including the home and whether the state is to endorse the values of modern, liberal democracy or adopt instead a form of ideological totalitarianism.”

Objective

In a written judgment, Mrs Justice Steyn said: “In my judgment, the content of the code and the guidance is consistent with the requirement to take care to ensure that RSE teaching is conveyed in an objective critical and pluralistic manner, and does not breach the prohibition on indoctrination.

“There is nothing in the code or the guidance that authorises or positively approves teaching that advocates or promotes any particular identity or sexual lifestyle over another, or that encourages children to self-identify in a particular way.”

Hyperbolic rhetoric

Jonathan Moffett KC, representing the Welsh Government, rejected the language used by the claimants.

“Such hyperbolic rhetoric, which has been a feature of the claimants’ case throughout, is unhelpful and serves only to obscure the fact that, properly understood, the claim raises conventional public law issues in relation to the principle of legality and the lawfulness of guidance, issues which do not require anything other than a conventional forensic approach on the part of the court,” he said.

Mr Moffett said the claimants had failed to identify “what allegedly unlawful teaching” the new curriculum would adopt and instead “resort to broad assertions”.

“The claimants have not pointed to any passages in the code or the guidance that authorise or positively approve teaching that advocates or promotes any particular identity or sexual lifestyle over another, or that encourage children to self-identify in a particular way,” he said.


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Arfon Jones
Arfon Jones
1 month ago

Absolutely right as well.

Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

I think the headline should read “Right wing Christian fundamentalist group lose legal challenge against Welsh Government’s sex education policy”

Riki
Riki
1 month ago

Children should not be taught Sex Ed until the later years of Junior school/ early years of High School. It’s absolutely ridiculous if it’s any earlier!

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 month ago
Reply to  Riki

Not sure what is the best age to start, but it strikes me that teaching kids about sex and relationships with others is so sensible. Speaking as a Boomer, I would have much preferred not to have to discover all that I now know by trial and error and sex manuals somewhat later. One only has to look at the news to see the huge number of disasterous relationships between men and women that lead to terrible outcomes (Eg the recent murder of 4 people by a drug addict). Boys do need to learn that sexist attitudes do not make… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Riki

Even small children are curious about how they got here, and so long as their questions are answered and no more, and the information is presented in an age appropriate way, there is absolutely no issue. I’m really grateful for the policies of the Inner London Education Authority, who, in the unenlightened days of the early 70s included compulsory and comprehensive sex education at my secondary school as a series of modules taught on Wednesday afternoons for a period of some weeks covering not just the basics, but also how to deal with deviants in public places such as on… Read more »

Andrew Redman
Andrew Redman
1 month ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Secondary school. Yes. Not earlier . It’s bad enough some of the “teaching ” that is undertaken at some Universities.No wonder there is so many young people that have stress problems.Why are the older generation having longer marriages and relationships?They didn’t have sex education as 7 year olds.!!!

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