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Campaigners eye legal challenge against Welsh Government over reforms to sex education

A group that represents more than 5,000 parents and grandparents in Wales are taking the Welsh Government to the High Court in an attempt to remove Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) from the mandatory element of The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021 which starts this September.

Public Child Protection Wales (PCPW) claims that the mandatory element of RSE means children “will be taught about sensitive and arguably inappropriate topics such as gender ideology”, and that parents were being disenfranchised by being denied their right to remove their child from sex education.

It also claims that the Welsh Government had misled parents, “since the original RSE draft in February of 2019 gave a hint that parental opt-out would be retracted at a later date”.

The group said: “Campaigners include parents of gay and lesbian children, and stress they are not against safeguarding or age-appropriate biology being taught. They fully support minority rights in terms of welfare and freedom of choice. They also recognise that children need sex education but stress it should be delivered in an appropriate way, by professionals, which makes their safeguarding paramount.”

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The claimants have instructed barrister Paul Diamond to represent them. Papers have been filed in the High Court in Cardiff. A response is expected in early May.

PCPW said that if it is unsuccessful, it will appeal, asking for an oral hearing.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that this group continue to promote incorrect and misleading claims about Relationships and Sexuality Education in Wales’s new curriculum. 

“Topics like online safety, consent and sexual health are all included in the Code, but at developmentally appropriate stages so learners aren’t exposed to things that aren’t appropriate to their age and development. At a younger age, for example, children will be taught about treating each other with kindness and empathy. As they grow older, they will gain an understanding of topics such as online safety, consent and sexual health – all of which will be handled in a sensitive way.”

The spokesperson added: “RSE is designed to safeguard all our children and young people, supporting them to develop knowledge, skills and behaviours that will assist in protecting them throughout their lives and enhance their well-being. This is about ensuring the best outcomes for all learners and their communities: to protect them and keep them safe. Evidence shows RSE can, for example help learners’ understanding and participation in healthy relationships of all kinds; reduce all forms of bullying as well as supporting learners to recognise and seek support for abusive or unhealthy relationships.”

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