The unknown client: defending parental rights

22 January 2021

The Christian Legal Centre’s Roger Kiska tells the stories of some of the cases that never make it to the press.

Periodically, Christian Concern highlights some of its behind-the-scenes work to which the general public is otherwise not privy. This work is typically not publicised for several reasons, including wanting to keep the name of the client anonymous to protect them from retaliation or victimisation. Another reason includes not wishing to bring attention to the institution which brought the disciplinary complaint but then acted well in dismissing the matter.

As a direct result of your sacrificial giving, Christian Concern has been able to help countless people you will never hear about but whose lives were made better because of you. An important part of Christian Concern’s work over the last several years has been its focus on parental rights in education and pushing back against the rising tide of sexualised and ideological education.

The new RSE regulations

The Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (England) Regulations 2019 were adopted by both houses of Parliament and came into force in September 2020 (although schools have been allowed to delay transposing the regulations into their teaching because of the interference of coronavirus with the regular activities of schools). Those regulations apply to all schools in England, whether maintained or independent, and require that pupils be taught four elements: (i) safety in forming and maintaining relationships; (ii) the characteristics of healthy relationships; (iii) how relationships may affect physical and mental health and well-being; and (iv) the nature of marriage and civil partnerships and their importance for family life and the bringing up of children. No opt-outs are allowed from the statutory elements of Relationships Education and the Department for Education has understood the regulations as requiring that LGBT elements be taught pupils.

The regulations included two safeguards for children’s well-being: (i) that the material taught children must be age appropriate; and (ii) that schools must have regard to the religious background of pupils. An additional safeguard was legislated to protect parental rights and requires schools to consult with parents when drafting or updating their Relationships Education policies. Schools also continue to owe an overarching statutory duty to parents to respect the manner in which they wish to raise their children in accordance with their religious and philosophical views.

Ideological education

Even prior to the regulations taking force, some schools have begun implementing morally ideological education in an unprecedented way. At times, this has been with the blessing of the Local Authority. The Department for Education has also pushed schools to include mainstream LGBT elements in different aspects of their curriculum. The result has been an assault on the educational rights of countless Christian parents.

While our supporters are aware of some of our efforts in this area, such as our work supporting Izzy Montague, Nigel and Sally Rowe, John Parker and Kristie Higgs just to name a few, the majority of what we do on behalf of parents goes on behind the scenes.

Secondary school – Anti-Christian video shown pupils

A secondary school in England, for example, has been screening a Stonewall video called Fit as part of its Relationships Education. One of the characters in the film explains to his friends that God did not write the Bible and that David and Jonathan, as well as Ruth and Naomi, were in gay relationships.

We drafted a letter to the school outlining that these views contradicted both the schools public sector equality duty and its statutory obligations to respect the right of parents to raise their children according to their own religious convictions. The letter also shared how disrespectful the views were and that Stonewall itself has no place in schools given how politically partisan they are.

The result was the school relenting and admitting they did not even know what was in the video. After learning the content, they undertook never to use the video again.

Primary school – LGBT ideology

A primary school in England announced that it would be having a day dedicated to funding Stonewall and raising LGBT issues with the pupils. Parents were informed once the plan for the day was already set, failing to raise the issue with parents beforehand and giving them only a few days’ notice that it was to take place.

Our lawyers drafted a letter to the school on a parent’s behalf along the same lines as the letter about the Fit video, again pointing out the school’s public sector equality duty, obligations regarding parental rights, and the problem of political partisanship. The letter further criticised the school for not consulting parents beforehand about the LGBT dedicated school day and for failing to consider that it would make students who had a faith objection to promoting Stonewall look homophobic to the other pupils.

As a result, the pupil was allowed to opt out of the activities of that day despite the school’s earlier insistence that participation was mandatory.

Religious opt outs etc.

We have also successfully assisted numerous parents in their efforts to opt their children out of classes which promote activities which they believe break the first commandment – to worship God alone. In many of these cases, schools have sought to require pupils to participate in activities which borrow from other religions or elements of spirituality that parents are uncomfortable with. For them, participation of their children in these activities undermines their ability to raise their own children according to their own Christian beliefs and values. Our legal team has created customised letters for each of these parents alerting the school to their legal rights in removing their children from these activities. In the vast majority of these cases, the issue is handled on first instance and amicably. In other cases it has taken more effort, but nonetheless we have come to positive resolutions in the vast majority of these cases.

Protecting our nation’s children, defending parental rights

The ongoing work of Christian Concern in the pursuit of protecting our nation’s children and defending parental rights has oftentimes been met by schools and local authorities with suspicion and hostility. Yet our perseverance and doggedness in focusing on what the law says rather than what some campaigning organisations and activists within the Department for Education wish it to be, has paid off. In September 2020, the Department for Education issued new guidance on how schools should implement the new Relationships Education regulations. That guidance warns schools about engaging campaigning organisations or using materials which misrepresent the law, sexualise children, adopt overly permissive transgender affirming policies or which are politically and ideologically partisan. These points have all been made by Christian Concern over and over again in defence of parental rights.

This new guidance in turn, will prove incredibly helpful as we continue to assist parents, including our many unknown clients.

We are grateful to you for your sacrificial gifts in making these services possible and will endeavour to honour your gifts through our hard work and dedication. Together we shall overcome.

Find out more about how you can support more of our work.

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