It is a common practice for all kinds of bans to bring a disaster for LGBTQ community. This time, however, that is not the case. For all the parts of the UK, Wales is now leading the way to a better future for the younger generation. That is the Department of Education and Skills has finally end up with prohibiting parents to withdraw their children from compulsory RSE classes. The measure was confirmed by the education minister Kirsty Williams. It has been a long journey of over four decades and it is still on the way although the principal decision was made. What are the next steps?
A lot of work is still ahead. As an updated RSE curriculum is to be implemented gradually until 2022, new learning materials covering LGBTQ relationships and social issues should be introduced and tested. Another pressing task is to find and educate an appropriate numbers of teachers capable of adequately presenting the material given in the textbooks. For both tasks being completed in a timely fashion a close collaboration with LGBTQ community and advocating organizations is inevitable.
“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,” as Mrs WIlliams put it. Debbie Laycock from Terrence Higgins Trust also supported the move and provided some additional reason pro the change of the curriculum. “...until now far too many young people have learned about sex through whispers in the playground,” she said.
But what about the Welsh society? Unfortunately, it appeared to be harsly divided regarding the changes of the curriculum to be implemented. The major concerns as it comes to LGBTQ rights arise from the religious conservatives. There are over 200 Christian schools across Wales that are expected to resist. That is not saying that the measures taken are also criticized by the Muslim community nationwide. That is especially surprising as an updated RSE program is intended to teach about numerous religions presented in the UK in general and in Wales in particular. “There were concerns that the values of the state would dominate and could change with the political mood, leaving parents with no ability to prevent their child from being ‘indoctrinated’ in ways they do not approve,” suggested summary following public consultations. Would it be really bad for parents to learn some diversity and inclusion from their educated children? Highly unlikely.
The opposition to changes also came from the other side, namely from Wales Humanists. This charity working on behalf of non-religious people in the UK is supposed to advocate human rights as it reads from the title. They, however, behave differently and try to outline the negative effects of RSE reform. “International case law shows that jurisdictions that do away with the right to withdraw end up being found in breach of the human right to freedom of religion or belief, as it leads to young people being indoctrinated against their or their parents’ wishes,” said Kathy Riddick, the coordinator for Wales Humanists. It may hay happen that some children “wish” not to attend school at all. The logic suggested by Ms Riddick is thus may be quite dangerous with numerous much worse far reaching implications. Isn’t better for all to give RSE a try so that all the members of the Welsh society were paid attention to?