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Police brought in as ‘extraordinary’ Gwynedd meeting over sex education erupts into chaos

25 Aug 2022 4 minute read
Gwynedd Council building.

Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter

An ‘extraordinary’ council meeting lived up to its name when a debate over sex education in schools erupted into chaos in Caernarfon.

The public gallery was cleared by police and councillors were held back in the Gwynedd Council chamber for ‘safety reasons’ at the end of the highly charged meeting on Thursday,  August 25.

Emotions were running high as events unfolded during tense discussions over the Relationship and Education Curriculum .

The Welsh Government sex education policy is to be rolled out in schools in September.

The policy is a mandatory element of the Curriculum for Wales Framework, and is the statutory guidance for headteachers, governing bodies and LEA’s
It is also the subject of a Judiciary Review later this year.

The emergency meeting had been called for by  five Gwynedd councillors: Louise Hughes, Eryl Jones-Williams, Angela Russell, Gruff Williams and  Rob Triggs.

The councillors claimed that the sex education scheme could have “potentially very significant consequences for both parents and children….as well as to our teachers, our constituents, and the Council”.

The meeting came as some parents threatened to withdraw their children from schools  amid a campaign by the Public Child Protection Wales group (PCPW).

A graphic leaflet distributed by the group alleged that the curriculum could introduce young children to ideas such as “self-stimulation, masturbation, bondage and anal sex”.

But a Welsh Government spokesperson described the leaflet as “full of misinformation and unevidenced, incorrect claims”, and said children would “only learn topics that are appropriate to their age and development”.

‘Healthy relationships’

At the meeting, Cllr Hughes proposed that the council refer the policy matter to scrutiny “as a matter of urgency”, and was seconded by Cllr Williams.

Cllr Hughes said that, since hearing about the RSE, she had “not been able to sleep” but had “wanted to open a frank and open discussion in the spirit of freedom of speech”.

During her address, which included descriptions of sexual acts and genitalia,  she was several times asked to redirect her comments and told she was “out of order”.

Members of the public gallery loudly clapped and cheered her on, but shouted down and booed councillors arguing in favour of the policy. They had  argued the policy was for the “protection of children”.

Several  warnings were given to members of the public who interrupted those speaking in the policy’s favour.

Defending it, Gwynedd councillor Beca Brown, who leads on education, said: “I am totally supportive of the education code set out by Welsh Government.

“My agenda on behalf of Gwynedd is the welfare, safety, health and happiness of the children and young people of this county.

“As cabinet education leader, I want the children of this county to be confident in creating healthy relationships; confident in setting boundaries, confident in saying no and to be happy in their own skin.

“Respecting other people and respecting differences in each other is of paramount importance.”

Cleared

As teacher Cllr Dewi Jones made his passionate address, saying that “misleading information” had been distributed, there was a a loud response from the public.

Chief executive Dafydd Gibbard warned the hecklers, saying: “Any more interruptions and the gallery will be cleared, so that everything feels safe.”

Shortly after, a man rose from his seat and shouted his disagreement,  prompting others to join in.

The meeting was then brought to a sudden stop, and several female members of the public left the room crying.

Police officers were brought in and, after a short recess, the meeting continued.

A vote was held on Councillor Hughes’ proposition that the matter be referred for scrutiny, with 19 in favour, one abstention and 30 against.

The meeting then ended suddenly, with the public the gallery being cleared by the police and council officials.

Members of the council remained inside the chamber until the area was cleared.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

First Nant Gwynant parking now Extraordinary Meetings and the Bank Holiday hasn’t even started yet…

Aled Gwyn Job
Aled Gwyn Job
1 month ago

Kudos to Cyngor Sir Gwynedd for being the first local authority in Wales to allow a discussion on the RSE. Watching the debate on-line, there were some good.contributions made on both sides of the debate. One puzzling thing for me though was to hear Plaid councillors insisting this was an innovative, and a specific made-in-Wales curriculum. Yes, there is a new Welsh curriculum coming in, but the sex and relationships part of it has been mandated by the United Nations and the World Health Organization. So, it’s far from being the organic and grass-roots Welsh initiative some were claiming. I’m… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Aled Gwyn Job
Richard 1
Richard 1
1 month ago
Reply to  Aled Gwyn Job

Google translate isn’t up to this. Too much pudding does what?!

Dafydd ap Robart
Dafydd ap Robart
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Chokes a dog.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago

The disgusting misinformation that is put out about Sex and Relationships education is on the same level as the absurd claim that AIDS is a ‘Gay disease’. Teaching children how to build strong relationships and helping them to develop the confidence to say no to things they don’t want to do in all contexts isn’t just uncontroversial, it’s fundamentally necessary. If you have a problem with children learning about good relationships and developing confidence, you need to take a good look at yourselves.

Will Jones
Will Jones
1 month ago

Once I saw that Beca Brown was involved I knew it would end in chaos. She is out of her depth.

Stephen Morris
1 month ago

Gwlad has previously declared its support for PCPW, and stands firmly for the right of parents to have the pre-eminent role in determining their children’s education.

Education is too important to be mis-used in this way.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Morris

I work in the education sector and I can tell you this: some parents shouldn’t be allowed to be parents let alone have a say in their child’s education. The welfare of the child should always be the priority and if that means going against the wishes of the parent then so be it. Children are people in their own right NOT chatels for their parents (which in practice usually means the fathers) to do with as they please. This idea that parents have ‘rights’ over their child is essentially medieval. The sort of people who oppose adequate sex and… Read more »

Jhn
Jhn
1 month ago

Has the currculum (or its draft) been circulated to the welsh people yet?

Rhod Williams
Rhod Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Jhn
Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

The opponents are obviously religious nut jobs who would prefer our children to be vulnerable to child exploitation and grooming than to be safe.

But then again religious groups have an appalingly bad record when it comes to child protection and the exploitation of children. In fact I would go so far as to say that religion (of any sort) IS the exploitation of children.

The sooner Wales becomes a completely secular non-religious country the better. Religion is a stain on humanity that we would be better off without.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Speaking as a non-believer not attached to any faith group I remain willing to accept that other people have a right to adhere to faith groups. You BP have resolved that there should be no tolerance whatsoever which marks you out as a dangerous type willing to suppress the views of others even when held peacefully and legitimately. Would you be so bold if you were, say, visiting Pakistan, or indeed any parts of the world where religions play a central role in the foundation of their civic society ?. This urge to be “always right” is extremely dangerous and… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I really do think you have misunderstood what I said in my post. For the record I’m not calling for religions and religious followers to be suppressed but for society to have secular foundations not religious ones. And no this is not the same thing as suppressing opposing beliefs in spite of claims from religious groups to the contrary. I repeat: secularism is not intolerance, although religious groups try to play the victim by claiming that it is. I stand by my assertion that religion is essentially an abuse of children – and I’m not just talking about the very… Read more »

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 month ago

This has worrying overtones of the far right christian fundamentalists that have been behind the anti abortion laws in the US. I don’t have facebook, but I know someone who does, and the PCPW facebook page is a bit of a cesspit, they clearly have the the pitch forks and burning torches at the ready.

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