Carys Moseley comments on plans by the Welsh government to introduce changes to sex education which would see three-year-olds learning about masturbation.
The Welsh government has just concluded its consultation on removing parents’ right to withdraw their children from Relationships and Sexuality Education and Religious Education in Wales. We responded to the consultation. Under the proposals, schools will not be allowed freedom to choose how to handle the proposed new Welsh curriculum. The problem here is not only one of undermining parental rights or the religious freedom of faith-based schools. Rather, it is that the exact content of the new RSE curriculum is not being made clear.
World Health Organisation Standards on Sexuality Education
Much has been made of the change in name from ‘Sex Education’ to ‘Relationships and Sexuality Education’. This is being promoted as a good thing because it moves away from mere biology to discussing relationships.
Paragraph 24 of the consultation document says this:
“Moving from sex education in the current legislation to RSE in future reflects the internationally recognised World Health Organisation (WHO) standards for sexuality education.”
As the phrase ‘standards for sexuality education’ is in lower case letters with no footnotes, consultation respondents won’t realise that it refers to an existing policy document, the Standards for Sexuality Education from the World Health Organisation reproduced here (Europe version).
Why did the Welsh government not indicate that this is a real policy document that is meant to influence Sexuality Education, by giving the proper capitalisation for the Standards for Sexuality Education and provide the correct online reference to this all-important policy document? For it is clearly this document that provides the available evidence for what the RSE curriculum in Wales will contain.
The introduction says:
“At the heart of the second part of the document is a matrix showing the topics which sexuality education needs to cover at certain age groups.”
So, let’s have a look at this Matrix.
Masturbation for toddlers?
The Matrix, starting on page 38 of the WHO Standards in Sexuality Education document, gives particular cause for concern, not to say disapproval:
It says that for children aged 0-4 they are to be given information on masturbation, “the right to explore gender identities”, “a positive attitude to different lifestyles”, “saying yes and no”. It assumes that children have ‘sexual rights’. This is completely unacceptable and makes it very clear that parents and others protesting against the new RSE curriculum in England were right all along to be so critical.
‘Appropriate sexual language’ for children aged 4-6?
For ages 4-6 the Matrix says that children need to learn about “early childhood masturbation”, “appropriate sexual language” and same-sex relationships, and to be able to “talk about sexual matters” as part of communication skills.
‘An understanding of acceptable sex’ for 6-9 year-olds
For ages 6-9 the Matrix says among other things that children need to learn about “body changes”, contraception, menstruation, ejaculation, sexual violence and aggression, sex in the media and “an understanding of acceptable sex”.
None of this is acceptable in primary school education. It is quite obvious that this constitutes the premature and utterly age-inappropriate introduction of complex – and at times, disturbing – sexual concepts to children.
The Welsh government must stop hiding from the public
Was writing ‘standards for sexuality education’ in lower case letters a way of hiding from the average member of the public – the average parent or teacher – what the true content of RSE will be in Wales?
The Welsh government needs to declare publicly ASAP whether or not it intends for the new RSE curriculum in Wales to include any of these elements found in the WHO Standards for Sexuality Education. If it does, it needs to start a brand new consultation on this topic, this time providing full and comprehensive evidence of the nature of the proposed content of RSE and the sources for it.
Progressive erosion of parental rights
The consultation proposes to end parental right to withdraw primary school children and children in year 7 of secondary school from RSE from September 2022. However it then goes further, and asks whether this right should be withdrawn from parents whose children will already be in years 8-11 in September 2022, years 9-11 in September 2023, and so on. The problem with this is that all of a sudden, parents whose children are part of the Welsh education system as it is now will lose rights that currently exist under it. This constitutes a fundamental breach of trust and obligation to parents on the part of the Welsh government.
A history of eroding parental rights
The Welsh government has form when it comes to eroding parental rights. It is still busying itself with pushing through legislation to remove parents’ right to the defence of reasonable chastisement in law, i.e. penalising parents for smacking children as a means of disciplining them. This proposal has proven to be very divisive indeed and attracted strong criticism from a whole array of academics, social policy experts, police chiefs, and parents themselves.
Most recently however the Big Ideas debate found three out of four panellists slamming the Welsh government for these ill-conceived proposals. It is telling that although public opinion was squarely opposed to them, the Welsh government arrogantly chose to ignore that and go ahead anyway. The excuse was that changing the law on this matter was a right encoded in the Government of Wales Act 2017 passed by Parliament (when in reality this does not mean that the Welsh government is duty-bound to implement such a law).
Time to stop the Welsh government in its tracks
The Welsh government has been run by the Labour Party for twenty years now. It has deeply immersed itself in all the anti-family, anti-Christian and chaotic sexual immorality that is involved here. Whilst nobody would pretend that the other political parties are much better, the lack of a change of government in Wales has meant that incredibly dodgy proposals like these have been allowed to get through pretty much unchallenged. Add to this the insufficiently robust response from civil society and the insufficient degree of plurality of standpoints in the media and we get a deadly combination of arrogance and apathy. It’s high time this came to an end.
The onus is very much on the Welsh government to prove that it is NOT going to introduce the sexualising policies recommended by the World Health Organisation’s Standards for Sexuality Education. If it cannot do that it is unfit to govern any longer.