A group of parents has lost a legal challenge against the teaching of children about gender identity and sex in primary schools across Wales.
Campaigners launched a judicial review in the high court against the Welsh government’s new relationships and sexuality education (RSE) curriculum, which they depicted as “dangerous” and “woke”.
The RSE curriculum was launched in September and involves mandatory teaching to pupils from the age of seven. The parents argued that a code and guidance supporting schools to deliver it did not mention traditional ideas relating to family life and gave prominence to LGBTQ+ themes.
Mrs Justice Steyn rejected the legal challenge after a two-day hearing in Cardiff, concluding: “There is nothing in the code or the guidance that authorises or positively approves teaching that advocates or promotes any particular identity or sexual lifestyle over another, or that encourages children to self-identify in a particular way.”
She said the RSE curriculum aimed to “encourage tolerance between human beings irrespective of their sexual orientation and identity, and to enable children to deal critically with influences from society, so that they develop into responsible and emancipated citizens capable of participating in the democratic processes of a pluralistic society”. She said its introduction had been “the product of a process of careful consideration”.
Welcoming the judgment, Jeremy Miles, the education minister in the Welsh government, said: “We have been clear that RSE is intended to keep children safe and to promote respect and healthy relationships. Parents can expect the teaching their children receive to be appropriate for their children’s age and maturity.
“I am appalled by the misinformation that has been purposefully spread by some campaigners, and the additional pressure this has brought upon some schools and workforce.”
Kim Isherwood, one of the claimants and the chair of the Public Child Protection Wales campaign, accused the Labour-led Welsh government of an “overreach of power”, adding: “We asked the court to help us protect our children from future emotional, physical, and psychological harm.”
She said they would appeal. “We look forward to another court hearing in the coming weeks where we will fight all the harder to protect our children from a dangerous woke agenda gone off the rails.”
Vivienne Laing, of NSPCC Cymru/Wales, welcomed the ruling. She said the inclusion of RSE ensured every child had information that was relevant, sensitive, and age-appropriate to their capacities and needs. “This has lifelong benefits for children and young people by teaching them about healthy and positive relationships, empowering them to recognise abuse and learn about their rights to be kept safe and healthy.”