Parents seek court ban over gender identity being taught in Welsh primary schools

The legal challenge has been brought by Public Child Protection Wales who say the Relationships and Sex Education curriculum is inappropriate for primary age children.

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Parents who are opposed to teaching young children about gender identity and sex in primary schools in Wales are attempting to stop a new curriculum due to start next week.

Campaigners against the Welsh Government’s new Relationships and Sexuality Education curriculum are seeking a High Court injunction to prevent the policy being taught to children from the age of seven.

They are seeking a temporary ban until a judicial review is heard later this year, or an opt-out for parents to remove their children from the mandatory classes.

The legal challenge has been brought by Public Child Protection Wales who say the Relationships and Sex Education curriculum is inappropriate for primary age children.

Representative for the claimants, Paul Diamond, acknowledged the seeking of an injunction this late was an “uphill task” but was “one of those exceptional cases”.

“It cannot be more important, and the issues cannot be more fundamental to our society involving the rights of families, the rights of children and the rights of fundamental liberties under the common law,” he told the High Court.

Campaigners are seeking a temporary ban on the new Relationships and Sexuality Education curriculum from the Welsh Government.
Campaigners are seeking a temporary ban on the new Relationships and Sexuality Education curriculum from the Welsh Government.

Mr Diamond said the claimants, who were not identified in court, are four mothers and one father and were “fighting for their children as any parent would”.

“They feel weak, powerless and believe it is a David versus Goliath conflict, but children are often their only legacy in life,” he said.

“And never stand in the way of a mother who would protect their child.

“There are a number of wider questions that will come before the substantive hearing.

“There has been a shift in the liberal order, the right of individuals to choose their own good life without state interference to now a requirement that people and individuals and private organisations must have the same views endorsed by the state.

“The question is whether we have a free, open tolerant society? Or, we say, an extremist, intolerant, almost totalitarian society imposed by the state.

“We say the extremism and intolerance is by the Welsh ministers and this cannot only lead to injustice and the seeking of uniformity.

“It will result in societal breakdown and will result in authoritarianism and that is why this case raises wider issues.

“We say it is the claimants who are the moderate, tolerant, decent citizens who seek the protection of the court and why this is an important case.

“Our society is consumed with irrational ideologies, a lack of tolerance and cancel culture. There is an atmosphere of fear and lack of free speech and a culture without freedom.”

Mr Diamond told Mrs Justice Tipples during a remote hearing that “matters of moral, ethical, religious, conscience and sex” have always been treated as “unique prerogatives of parents”.

“Religious education has been a standalone subject and so has sex education,” Mr Diamond said.

“This has been the standard position of education in the UK that education laws should be limited to non-political, non-ethical subjects conveyed by schools in a neutral fashion.

“Individuals are able to determine their own view of the common good.”

The judge questioned why the injunction was only sought earlier this month when the legal challenge was launched in April.

Mr Diamond said the parents were only informed at the end of the June by letter that the curriculum was going to be implemented in September but acknowledged they “could be criticised for not moving faster”.

“They don’t want to do this. You are not dealing with Spanish shipping owners or city firms with solicitors,” he said.

“They don’t want to go to court, they don’t want to go down this route, they just want to protect their children.

“We are talking about the most extreme ideological imposition on children in this country and it is considerably worse that what the English legislation provides, which still effectively provides for opt outs.

“This is highly controversial and is not even scientific and is totally aggressive ideology – a man cannot be a woman.

“They believe their children and other children would be irreparably damaged – especially vulnerable children.

“It is a question of children and parents’ rights. It is going to shift the balance between the state and parents. This is just the beginning. Who runs the children? The parents or the state?”

Emma Sutton, representing the Welsh Government, opposed the application and said what the claimants were seeking was impractical as the curriculum would be woven into all classes, regardless of subject.

“In terms of the timescale, it is wholly significant that what is being suggested is to stop a process that has been in effect for a considerable period of time – a number of years,” she said.

“Less than a week is to pass now before the curriculum is going to be implemented. It is a late hour and it is too late for the claimants to come to the court in the way that they have.

“RSE will be a mandatory element of an entirely new comprehensive framework for the curriculum in Wales.

“The purpose of RSE is to help pupils to develop as healthy, confident individuals by providing them with developmentally appropriate teaching that will give them a proper understanding of relationships and sexuality.

“It has an emphasis on rights, equality, equity, and it seeks to enable pupils to understand and respect differences and diversity.”

Miss Sutton said there was no legislation to excuse pupils from attending lessons and the Welsh Government was not acting unlawfully.

“The Welsh ministers have no power to suspend RSE teaching and the court should not order the Welsh ministers to do something that they have no power to do,” she added.

Mrs Justice Tipples said she would adjourn and given an oral ruling on the application on Thursday morning.

The judicial review hearing will take place over two days from November 15 before Mrs Justice Steyn.