The High Court has ruled that the Welsh government’s controversial plans to make LGBTQ+ teaching compulsory for primary school children is lawful and does not conflict with parental rights.
Mrs Justice Steyn, after a two day hearing in Cardiff, rejected the judicial review by concerned parents against the Welsh government’s edict that primary school children be taught the new Relationships and Sexuality Education curriculum which includes sexually explicit and LGBTQ+ teaching.
The ruling means that for the first time the parental right to withdraw children from explicit sex education classes has been removed from law.
The controversial proposals, which were opposed by 90% of parents in the Welsh Government’s consultation, is to be subject to a “whole school approach” whereby themes of sexuality and LGBTQ+ are to permeate the whole curriculum.
The concerned parents argued that this new curriculum exposes their children to serious dangers, and that the common law protected parental rights to opt their children out of classes which they considered inappropriate and conflicted with their religious and philosophical beliefs.
But Mrs Justice Steyn held that: “The case law and texts relied upon by the claimants do not support the existence of a fundamental common law right of excusal. I reject the contention that such a right exists.”
Further, she found that Article 2 of the First Protocol to the European Convention of Human Rights, which obliges the state to respect the right of parents “to ensure such education and teaching [is] in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions,” did not protect parental rights in the field of controversial sex education.
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Mrs Justice Steyn concluded: “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.”
But Kim Isherwood, one of the claimants and the spokesperson for the campaign said: “We asked the High Court to recognise the overreach of power by the government, we asked the court to help us protect our children from future emotional, physical, and psychological harm. The evidence we provided to the court referenced and highlighted concerning levels of betrayal, deceit and false claims made by the government, but it appears as though the judge agrees with them – not only do we parents not have rights, but they were never there to begin with.
“The team is preparing the appeal, the higher the court the louder the message. This is not a loss; this is another level of exposure. 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.”
Lucia Thomas, co-founder of Public Child Protection Wales and spokesperson for the campaign, added: “My main concern is Justice Steyn quoting Professor Emma Renold and the support of her work on this RSE curriculum. Emma Renold references her own work and has a deep-rooted belief that childhood and childhood innocence is a myth. We look forward to another day in court.”
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.”