A High Court judge has granted the parents judicial review of the new relationship and sex education being rolled out in Wales from September. Claimants representing more than 5,000 parents and grandparents have filed documents with the High Court.
They are part of a campaign called Public Child Protection Wales which wants to remove relationship and sex education (RSE) from the compulsory part of the new curriculum for Wales taught from next term. PCPW said he believed compulsory CSR education would mean that “very young children will be introduced to sensitive and inappropriate topics such as gender ideology and be disenfranchised by being denied their age-old right to withdraw their child from sex education”.
The Welsh government has said children will only learn CSR topics appropriate to their age and development. At a younger age, for example, children will learn to treat each other with kindness and empathy.
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Judge Turner, sitting in the Royal Courts of Justice, granted the parents’ application for judicial review which must now be heard before the start of the school year in September. In his ruling, Judge Turner said: “The issues raised on behalf of the plaintiffs involve the consideration of complex constitutional issues with potentially far-reaching consequences for parents and children. The defendants’ response, while not without force, is not so obviously determinative of the issues justifying the denial of leave.”
PCPW said its activists, including parents of gay and lesbian children and trans parents, have emphasized that they are not against safeguarding or teaching age-appropriate biology. They also fully support minority rights in terms of well-being and freedom of choice.
PCPW spokeswoman and co-chair Lucia Thomas, who has children in secondary school, said activists were not opposed to sex education in schools but disagreed with the content of the new CSR program and preventing parents from being authorized to withdraw their children from these courses. “The main thing is that the new CSR sexualizes children too much,” she said. “We know this from the global CSR rollout they are following in Wales.
“There needs to be some sex education in schools, but it should be based on biology and not sexuality. Maybe it should start in the last year of primary school and be based on biology. We We have also heard reports that teachers are not receiving adequate training.”
Claimant Kim Isherwood, a parent of two boys aged 13 and 17 and from Port Talbot, said: ‘After years of being ignored, we are delighted that the judge has recognized the seriousness of the proposed changes. The removal of age-old parental rights and the CSR program, as it stands, could have significant consequences for the mental and physical health of children.
“In one fell swoop, the government has severed the vital partnership between parents and schools creating, for the first time, a political divide between us. Children should not be used for political ideological experiments related to identity and sexuality. “
She said opponents believed CSR reform would lead to the “sexualisation of children”. Human rights lawyer Paul Diamond is acting for PCPW for judicial review. He will argue that the case raises important legal issues, including the human rights of very young children because of “the imposition of transient and culturally variable ideologies”, the campaign group said. The case will be heard in the High Court in Cardiff on a date to be determined. PCPW is crowdfunding and raised £16,000 for an estimated need of £100,000.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘Learners will only learn subjects appropriate to their age and development. At a younger age, for example, children will learn to treat each other with kindness and empathy.
“As they get older, they will gain an understanding of topics such as online safety, consent and sexual health – all of which will be handled sensitively. This is to ensure the best outcomes for all learners and their communities: to protect them and keep them safe.
“Evidence shows that CSR can, for example, help learners understand and participate in healthy relationships of all kinds; reduce all forms of bullying, as well as help learners recognize and ask for help for abusive or unhealthy relationships.Since 2018, the CSR Code has been through full and wide consultation and due legislative process in the Senedd.These reforms have been welcomed by a number of respected organisations, including the NSPCC, Office of the Children’s Commissioner and Welsh Women’s Aid.