Welsh compulsory sex education plans face legal challenge

1st June, 2022 2:22 pm

The High Court has given a group opposed to plans to make relationship and sexuality education (RSE) compulsory the right to challenge it in the courts.

The Welsh government is making the changes in its new curriculum.

Public Child Protection Wales say parents will be “disenfranchised” from their right to remove children from sex education classes.

The Welsh government said pupils will learn topics that are age appropriate.

Wales’ new curriculum is set to be launched in primary schools in September this year, and in secondary schools in 2023.

As part of the plans parents will be unable to remove children from RSE classes.

The Welsh relationship and sexuality education code says that “over time, learners can explore how relationships, sex, gender, romantic and sexual attraction and personal experiences may shape and inform a person’s identity and individuality”.

It says: “Learners need to be supported to recognise and value different types of relationships, including families and friendships, as well as the diversity within different types of relationships, including LGBTQ+ diversity, and that these can change over time.”

Public Child Protection Wales, which has won the right to seek a judicial review into the plan, believe mandatory teaching will mean “very young children will be introduced to sensitive and inappropriate topics, such as gender ideology, and that they will be disenfranchised by being denied their time-honoured right to remove their child from sex education”.

Kim Isherwood, a claimant in the case, said: “Children should not be used for political ideological experiments in relation to identity and sexuality.”

The Welsh government said pupils “will only learn topics that are appropriate to their age and development”.

It says that from age seven, pupils may be taught “about ‘the importance of fair treatment for all and of respect in all interpersonal interactions offline and online’.”

“From age 11, the code progresses to refer to ‘understanding the importance of inclusivity, including for LGBTQ+ people, non-discrimination and the value of diversity in our interpersonal behaviours and relationships’.”

A government spokesman said it was about “ensuring the best outcomes for all learners and their communities: to protect them and keep them safe”.

The boss of a headteachers’ union said her members would deliver relationship education in a sensitive way.

Director of ASCL Cymru, Eithne Hughes, told BBC Radio 4 her members “will be very clear they will not promote any ideology or any particularly side”.

“They will be delivering this based on a framework that they’ve been given in a way that is sensitive and is appropriate for the children they have in front of them.”

High Court judge Mr Justice Turner, in granting the group’s request, said the issues raised on behalf of the claimants “involve the consideration of complex constitutional matters with potentially very significant consequences for both parents and children”.

The group said the case will be heard in the High Court in Cardiff with a date yet to be set.

Source: BBC News

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