Protesters lose High Court battle against new sex education curriculum in Wales

Similar protests have taken place in Scotland. Credit: PA

A group of campaigners against the Welsh Government’s new relationships and sexuality education (RSE) curriculum have lost their bid to appeal against a High Court judgment.

Education minister Jeremy Miles called the result an “important vindication”.

He said the policy “is intended to keep children safe and to promote healthy, respectful relationships”.

The statutory guidance, which was launched last September, now guarantees the mandatory teaching of relationships and sexuality education to children from the age of seven.

Campaigners previously lost a case against teaching about relationships in September.

Members of the Public Child Protection Wales group launched a judicial review in the High Court claiming the teachings were inappropriate for primary school age children and it is wrong not to allow parents to excuse their children from the classes.

All aspects of the claim were dismissed on December 22 by Mrs Justice Steyn, who said: “In my judgment, the content of the code and the guidance is consistent with the requirement to take care to ensure that RSE teaching is conveyed in an objective critical and pluralistic manner, and does not breach the prohibition on indoctrination.

“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.”

Last week, Lord Justice Males in the Court of Appeal, said: “The applicants’ various challenges to the Code and the Guidance all proceed on the basis that these documents mandate the teaching and promotion of particular sexual lifestyles in ways which amount to indoctrination.

“As the respondents point out, however, the fundamental difficulty with these challenges is that the Code and Guidance do no such thing.”

In relation to how the new curriculum approaches issues relating to different sexualities, gender identification and the respectful treatment of LGBTQ+ people, Lord Justice Males added: “It is inconceivable that such teaching could be contrary to the common law or the Human Rights Act.

“On the contrary, diversity and inclusion (including as to the LGBTQ+ community) are fundamental values of British (including Welsh) society.”

In a statement to Cabinet ministers within the Senedd, Mr Miles said: “This is an important vindication of the approach taken by the Welsh Government to RSE.

“That approach is intended to keep children safe and to promote healthy, respectful relationships.

“Schools are legally required to ensure that learning is developmentally appropriate and to provide information on RSE which includes a range of views on the subject and which does not seek to promote one view over another.”

He said schools continue to be encouraged to engage parents and carers on the matter and that resources are available to help teachers take a balanced approach.

“This transparency, along with a constructive, open dialogue where issues are raised is critical to securing the confidence of parents and carers,” Mr Miles added.