A GROUP of parents are taking the Welsh Government to the High Court over concerns that mandatory Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) lessons as part of the new curriculum will be ‘sexualising children’.

The Public Child Protection Wales group say children as young as three will be taught about “sensitive and arguably inappropriate topics”, including gender ideology, and that parents are being disenfranchised by being denied the right to remove their child from sex education.

However, the Welsh Government said these claims were “incorrect” and that all lessons would be age-appropriate.

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Kim Isherwood, from Public Child Protection Wales, is a parent of two teenage boys.

She said: “This new curriculum is not like the stand-alone RSE lessons that pupils and parents are used to. It is embedded into every lesson across the curriculum.

“The new mandatory element also means that every child, aged three-16, must take part. It cannot be avoided by anyone, and there are no rights for parents to request information on what will be taught, at what age, or to ask that their child sit out.”

Lucia Thomas, a parent who is helping raise funds for the case, said: “We are deeply concerned that in our current culture, there is a progressive, aggressive lobby which is seeking to push onto children and young people ideologies which parents would find inappropriate.

“School is a place to learn about vital biology, learn how to develop relationships (with both sexes) and to develop respect. 

“But, as parents, we believe what is happening here is the sexualisation of children, not the education of children.

“Parents know their child best, and if appropriate, parents should seek external professional medical or counselling advice to support our child. But we do not believe the changes to the curriculum help children in Wales – quite the opposite.”

The Welsh Government’s Curriculum for Wales – Relationships and Sexuality Education Code said that children aged three will be taught about acting with kindness, empathy and compassion to others; an awareness of diversity in families and relationships; the use of accurate terminology for body parts; recognising trusted adults who can help them when they feel unhappy or unsafe; and an awareness of how to keep safe online.

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“It is disappointing that this group continue to promote incorrect and misleading claims about Relationships and Sexuality Education in Wales’ new curriculum,” said a Welsh Government spokesperson.

“Topics like online safety, consent and sexual health are all included in the Code, but at developmentally appropriate stages so learners aren’t exposed to things that aren’t appropriate to their age and development.

“At a younger age, for example, children will be taught about treating each other with kindness and empathy. As they grow older, they will gain an understanding of topics such as online safety, consent and sexual health – all of which will be handled in a sensitive way.

“RSE is designed to safeguard all our children and young people, supporting them to develop knowledge, skills and behaviours that will assist in protecting them throughout their lives and enhance their well-being.

“This is about ensuring the best outcomes for all learners and their communities: to protect them and keep them safe.

“Evidence shows RSE can, for example, help learners’ understanding and participation in healthy relationships of all kinds; reduce all forms of bullying as well as supporting learners to recognise and seek support for abusive or unhealthy relationships.

“These reforms have been welcomed by a number of respected organisations including the NSPCC, the Children’s Commissioner’s Office and Welsh Women’s Aid.”

The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021 requires that RSE taught in the new curriculum must be developmentally appropriate for learners.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “It will not seek to indoctrinate to a particular view but will instead provide a range of views on a number of topics in a neutral manner.”

Campaigners said they were not against safeguarding or age-appropriate biology being taught and fully support minority rights in terms of welfare and freedom of choice. They said they also recognise that children need sex education, but stressed it should be delivered in an appropriate way by professionals.

The group has filed papers in the High Court, and said it expects a response in early May.