Parents lose bid to stop mandatory gender and sex education lessons in primary schools
Parents have lost a High Court bid to stop primary school children being taught mandatory relationship and sex education in schools.
Campaigners against the Welsh government’s new Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum sought a High Court injunction to prevent the policy, that is due to come in next week, being taught to children from the age of seven.
The legal challenge was brought by Public Child Protection Wales who say the RSE curriculum is inappropriate for primary age children.
They wanted a judge to order a temporary ban until a judicial review into the curriculum is heard later this year, or an opt-out for parents to remove their children from the mandatory classes – as is the case in England.
But a High Court judge refused the application, saying the claimants did not show any evidence of their children being harmed during the injunction period.
Mrs Justice Tipples said their claim was founded on "unparticularised assertions" which were "not good enough”.
She added: “Apart from the generalised objections at the root of this claim, the evidence does not actually identify whether between now and the date of the hearing in November 2022 any of the claimants’ children will be taught anything to which the claimants object.
“Leading on from that, there’s also no evidence before the court as to what, if any, harm it is said the claimants or any of their children are likely to suffer in the event the injunction sought is not granted.”
The judge also said the court could not order the Labour-led Welsh government to excuse individual children from the curriculum because there is no legislative authority to do so and criticised the delay in seeking the injunction.
She added: “There is nothing in the claimants’ evidence that any of the three children to whom RSE will be taught in the 2022/23 academic year will suffer any harm, yet alone any irreparable harm.”
Critics have claimed that the code is trying to "erase girls and women from society" and make them "invisible".Barrister Paul Diamond, representing the parents, had told the court that the new curriculum was "full of buzzwords like starting young, diversity and LGBT" but did not make space for "traditional family values”.
He said: "Every lesson, every class from maths to geography will be infused with this. It's akin to indoctrination and there's a failure to respect parental wishes…
“There has been a shift in the liberal order, the right of individuals to choose their own good life without state interference to now a requirement that people and individuals and private organisations must have the same views endorsed by the state.”
He added: “It is a question of children and parents’ rights. It is going to shift the balance between the state and parents. This is just the beginning. Who runs the children, the parents or the state?”
Mrs Justice Tipples ordered the claimants to pay £12,000 towards the cost of the Welsh government defending the injunction application.
The parents will get a second chance to stop RSE at a further judicial review hearing in November.
A Welsh government spokeswoman said they were “confident” that their reforms “are proportionate and lawful”, adding: “All schools which are rolling out the curriculum from September will teach RSE in a developmentally appropriate way as required by the legislation.
“This means all learners in these schools will receive RSE, which is critical to keeping them safe.”
Emma Sutton, representing the Welsh government ministers, said concerned parents should raise any particular concerns or grievances with the schools themselves rather than the Welsh government.
The RSE code states: "The Welsh Government 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."