Sex education campaigners have lost their bid to appeal a High Court ruling on the Welsh government’s policy.
Launched last September, the new curriculum for Wales includes the teaching of relationship and sexuality education (RSE) from the age of seven.
Campaigners had appealed the judgement in the High Court last year which dismissed their claims about the RSE code and guidance.
They wanted parents to have the opportunity to excuse their children from some classes as they believed teachings would not be appropriate for primary school children.
They said losing their bid to appeal the High Court ruling was a “devastating blow” but the Welsh government said it was an “important vindication” of its policy.
Lord Justice Males in the Court of Appeal concluded the code and guidance did not “amount to indoctrination”.
“The applicants’ various challenges to the code and the guidance all proceed on the basis that these documents mandate the teaching and promotion of particular sexual lifestyles in ways which amount to indoctrination,” he said.
“As the respondents point out, however, the fundamental difficulty with these challenges is that the code and guidance do no such thing.”
The Welsh government’s RSE code says from the age of seven pupils will be taught “an awareness of how positive and negative social and cultural norms regarding sex, gender and sexuality influence relationships and behaviours”.
Lord Justice Males added that diversity and inclusion were “fundamental” to British society.
“It is inconceivable that such teaching could be contrary to the common law or the Human Rights Act,” he said.
“On the contrary, diversity and inclusion (including as to the LGBTQ+ community) are fundamental values of British (including Welsh) society.”
The Welsh government’s education minister, Jeremy Miles, said the Court of Appeal’s judgement was an “important vindication” of the government’s approach.
“The approach is intended to keep children safe and to promote healthy, respectful relationships,” he said.
“Schools are legally required to ensure that learning is developmentally appropriate, to provide information on RSE which includes a range of views on the subject and which does not seek to promote one view over another.”
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The Welsh Conservatives, the largest opposition party in the Senedd, said they were “disappointed” by the ruling.
“The Welsh Conservatives will never stop fighting for parental choice when it comes to deciding over whether ‘relationships and sexuality education’ content is age appropriate for their children,” said shadow education minister Laura Anne Jones.
“While Jeremy Miles may say he feels ‘vindicated’ today, it is of paramount importance that the minister dispenses with his flippant attitude of dismissal when it comes to the reasonable concerns of parents in Wales.”
Public Child Protection Wales said in a statement released on their website that the decision was a “devastating blow” but “not the end of the road” for their campaign.
“If anything, this is just the beginning. Accountability is coming,” they said.