Welsh parents lose right to opt children out of sex ed

21 January 2020

The Welsh government has announced new education plans meaning parents will no longer have the right to opt their children out of lessons about relationships, sexuality or religion.

Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams said the move would be tested from next year before becoming a compulsory part of the new curriculum in 2022.

Introducing LGBT themes in place of sex education

Much like the new sex education guidelines that have been introduced in England, which are set to come into force from September this year, the Welsh programme also introduces LGBT themes. The draft guidance outlines themes that are to be taught to five-year-olds, including “values, rights, culture and sexuality”, “understanding gender” and “sexuality and sexual behaviour”. Yet how this is to be set out remains unclear.

Christian Concern’s Policy Researcher, Carys Moseley observes how the new draft guidelines are rooted in the idea that Relationships and Sexuality Education is distinct from biology: “Relationships and Sexuality Education has effectively been divorced from the acceptance that we all have a biological nature created by God. This is because Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has previously complained that sex education was ‘too biological’.”

Carys Moseley has previously commented on how the content of the Welsh RSE curriculum must not sexualise young children.

Ignoring parents’ concerns

The Welsh Government previously consulted on the changes early in 2019, however parents’ concerns appear to have been largely ignored.

The consultation response points out that:

“Some respondents felt that young learners should not receive sex education at a young age, and that introducing aspects of ‘sexuality’ too young is likely to confuse children.
“A number of respondents expressed concerns that relationships are defined too broadly within the guidance, and that marriage was ‘downgraded’.
” … A number of issues were raised by respondents around the content and themes listed within the draft guidance and their appropriateness for young children in particular. It was felt that these should be reviewed.”

The initial consultation left out a question on taking away parents’ right to withdraw their children from these lessons – a point that many parents were quick to notice and comment on. The new education guidance ignores these concerns:

“A number of respondents commented that the reference to right to withdraw was omitted from the consultation. A number of respondents were in favour of parents retaining the right to withdraw children from RSE.”

Indoctrinating children?

This comes as Andrew Moffat, the teacher who created the No Outsiders programme, spoke to the BBC about how he is continuing to defy parents’ wishes in Birmingham by using a ‘tweaked’ version of the programme to teach children about LGBT themes. Protests outside the school took place for months, urging a stop to teaching on LGBT themes.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The Today Programme about restarting ‘equalities lessons’ after the protests, he spoke of how he had ‘changed’ to programme to ‘fit parents’ wishes’ and was now using ‘No Outsiders for a Faith Community’:

“There were four books that parents were telling me they had concerns about, so two of those I’ve replaced. I’ve replaced them with books that have the same message and they’re just put across in a different way.
“… We haven’t climbed down – I haven’t climbed down because we’re still teaching the same messages.”

Tim Dieppe commented on the issue:

“Governments and Education Authorities need to start listening to the concerns of parents who are worried about what their children will be taught. There is a simple answer to this whole dispute: stop teaching about same-sex relationships in primary schools.

“LBGT activists are so determined to indoctrinate our children that they cannot even consider compromise on this issue of faith and religious freedom. The No Outsiders programme has not changed at all to consider parents’ concerns because it is still teaching the same themes with the same message. Christians must take an active interest in what is being taught to their children and be prepared to take their children out of certain lessons. The hearts and minds of the next generation depend on it.”

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