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Education

Wales has banned parents from stopping their children learning about sex, religion and LGBT people

Nick Duffy January 21, 2020
Parents will not be able to withdraw their children from lessons about different types of families and relationships

Parents will not be able to withdraw their children from lessons about different types of families and relationships (Stock photo)

Wales has removed the rights of parents to prevent their children from learning about different types of relationships.

Parents have long had the right to withdraw children from relationship and sexuality education (RSE) and religious education (RE), but Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams announced on Tuesday that parents will no longer be permitted to deny their kids access to teaching about relationships and different religions.

Wales will ensure ‘all young people’ understand equal rights.

Kirsty Williams, a Liberal Democrat, said: “Our responsibility as a government is to ensure that young people, through public education, have access to learning that supports them to discuss and understand their rights and the rights of others.

“It is essential that all young people are provided with access to information that keeps them safe from harm. Today’s decision ensures that all pupils will learn about issues such as online safety and healthy relationships.”

The move follows a public consultation on the issue.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Wales Kirsty Williams
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams (Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

The Welsh government minister added: “I recognise this is a sensitive matter and the consultation responses reflected a wide range of views.

“There is clearly a need for us to work with communities and all interested parties in developing the learning and teaching for RSE and RE – this work will be vital to enable everyone to have trust in how the change is implemented.”

The move comes ahead of the introduction of a pioneering new statutory, LGBT+ inclusive relationship and sexuality curriculum in Wales.

Pioneering approach hailed by LGBT+ campaigners.

The decision – which comes despite protests against LGBT+ inclusive education in some English cities – has been praised by LGBT+ campaigners.

Debbie Laycock of HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust told PinkNews: “By guaranteeing access to relationships and sexuality education lessons for all pupils, Wales is leading the way.

“We’ve campaigned for compulsory RSE lessons for nearly four decades and until now far too many young people have learned about sex through whispers in the playground.

“This decision by the Welsh government will go some way to fixing this. It’s absolutely vital lessons are LGBT+ inclusive and have a strong focus on HIV and sexual health so all young people have the knowledge they need to form healthy and fulfilling relationships.

“We are now looking to the Welsh government to continue leading the way by providing all schools with the resources and training they need to deliver these new lessons to the highest standard across the board.”

More: LGBT-inclusive education, Liberal Democrats, Sex and relationships education, Wales

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