A legal challenge from angry parents against teaching LGBTQ sex and gender identity in Welsh primary schools has been defeated.
The High Court ruling has been celebrated by teaching unions, charities and the Children’s Commissioner in Wales who have spoken out in support of what they regard as ‘vital’ education.
The group of campaigning parents called Public Child Protection (PCP) Wales lodged a judicial review against the proposed lessons in relationships and sexuality education (RSE) which form part of the new Welsh Government curriculum.
The parents depicted the material covered in lessons as ‘woke’ and ‘dangerous’ - promoting overly ‘sexual lifestyles, gender theory and new sexualities.’ They argued their rights as parents are protected by law to have a say in the subjects their children are taught.
Mrs Justice Steyn ruled yesterday the teaching material was lawful, calling it ‘objective, critical and pluralistic’ and far from indoctrinating. She also questioned the accuracy of the claimants’ characterisation of the new material.
As she made her judgement, she said: “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 added that the curriculum was intended 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.”
The reforms to RSE, set out in the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021, have introduced the compulsory lessons to all pupils over the age of seven in Welsh schools.
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.”
The milestone ruling has been hailed as a victory for the rights of LGBT people in Wales.
Humanists UK has called it a victory for ‘children’s rights’ while school leaders’ union NAHT said the new lessons will be vital for children’s ‘lives in modern Britain.’
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales Rocio Cifuentes said the ruling would enable all young people should be given the opportunity to learn about safe, ‘respectful and equal relationships.’
But Welsh Conservatives Shadow Education Minister, Laura Anne Jones MS, said her party would continue to fight for the rights of parents to withdraw their children from RSE lessons and described the ruling as ‘disappointing.’