Ask your school

Parents' campaign

The new Curriculum for Wales will be taught in all primary and most secondary schools in Wales from September. Under this new curriculum Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) will be compulsory. Parents will not be able to withdraw their children from these lessons. So it’s important that you are fully informed about what your child is being taught, who will be delivering it and the kinds of resources that will be used.

It’s intended that each school will develop their own curriculum and that they consult with parents, carers, and with children and young people about what will be taught. With such a sensitive subject area, this needs to be handled carefully. Issues such as safeguarding are crucial as is making sure that information is scientifically and legally accurate. However, this is not always happening, particularly when schools use third-party providers and external resources. 

Members of the Westminster Government are raising concerns about resources used to teach RSE. But here in Wales, the Government takes no responsibility for the questionable content of  AGENDA and CRUSH educational packs, despite the former displaying the Welsh Government logo. In fact, CRUSH is currently being used to train teachers across Wales in preparation for the new curriculum.

Both heavily criticised resources were authored by the Chair of the RSE Expert Panel. These resources are written within the academic contexts of Queer and Gender Theory and Sex Positivity. They promote self-identified gender above biological sex and include definitions of key terms that differ from those of the Equality Act 2010.

Many other providers  take a similar ideological rather than an evidence-based approach to issues of sex and gender, suggesting for example that there are more than two sexes, or that women can have penises. Many of the resources are age-inappropriate. Most ignore issues of safeguarding, others actively work to dismantle boundaries – particularly but not exclusively in relation to female pupils. 

If you share any of these concerns, take action now: ASK YOUR SCHOOL!

Here’s all the help you need!
  • A briefing focusing on the issues most frequently raised by parents and pupils
  • A template email/letter for contacting your school.
  • Tips for getting the most out of your meeting.
  • Advice about what to do if you still have concerns.
  • Links to other resources.


This briefing covers:
  1. What to ask. 
  2. Why you need to ask it. 
  3. What you should expect.

We’ve focused on the issues most frequently raised by parents and pupils. 

What to ask

Does the school use external organisations, trainers or resources to deliver RSE lessons?

  • If so, which ones and how are they checked and vetted?
  • Are the materials and approach objective, critical, and pluralistic?
Why do you need to ask this?
  • Few, if any providers have any expertise in safeguarding or the law. The ‘sex-positive’ and ‘porn-positive’ nature of many of the resources, and the inclusion of explicitly sexual material – even for primary-age children – is a clear safeguarding risk. Some resources misrepresent the law e.g. in relation to ‘sexting’ and under-age sex, both of which are illegal.
  • A majority use a ‘queer theory’ approach which, in its focus on gender rather than sex, misrepresents aspects of the Equality Act, prioritises the rights of trans-identified pupils and discriminates against girls, LGB pupils, and pupils from faith-based backgrounds. The use of deliberately confusing terminology and the conflation of sex and gender is particularly problematic for children with neurodevelopmental conditions.
  • Of particular concern is that schools are often advised to keep a child’s wish to ‘socially transition’ confidential, and to not inform parents. This advice directly conflicts with safeguarding guidelines, and undermines the parents’ relationship with their child and with the school. This is particularly significant for children with ASDs or ADHD, those with additional learning needs, disabled children and those dealing with mental health issues.
  • Under the 1996 Education Act schools have a duty to ensure that partisan or one-sided political views are not presented to children without being balanced by alternative vantage points. This includes resources supplied by a third party. Politically biased resources or teaching approaches are illegal. Welsh Government have stated that the RSE curriculum must be ‘objective, critical, and pluralistic as to its content and manner of teaching’.
What should you expect?

Both the curriculum and the teaching approach must be:

  • Objective i.e. factual and evidence-based rather than ideological. For example, schools must not present as fact the belief that we all have an inner gender, or that sex is a spectrum rather than an immutable binary.
  • Critical e.g. of gender stereotypes that suggest that if you are a boy who likes the colour pink, or ballet, or dressing up, you are actually a girl; of a porn-positive approach which fails to address the relationship between porn and sexual abuse and harassment in schools, or its negative impact on relationships.
  • Pluralistic i.e. a range of viewpoints must be offered rather than a single ideological or political ‘take’. This also applies to the school as a whole. Their approach should not prioritise one group over another, e.g: the wish of a trans-identified boy to use the girls’ changing room over the girls’ need for privacy and safety; extensive support and publicity for Pride week, little or no support for Disability week; a focus on gender identity in the curriculum but minimal consideration of sexual abuse and harassment of girls.
What to ask

Does the school equality policy use the protected characteristic of ‘sex’?

Why do you need to ask this?

The Equality Act protects specific groups from discrimination and gives women and girls the legal right to single-sex spaces and opportunities on the basis of their sex. Many schools have replaced ‘sex’ with ‘gender’, ‘gender identity’ or ‘gender expression’. This misrepresents the law and undermines the rights of women and girls.

What should you expect?
  • The school is obliged to adhere to the protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act. They are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage & civil partnership, pregnancy & maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.
  • They can ‘go beyond’ the law and include additional groups in their anti-discrimination policies if they wish, but the core list must be included.
What to ask

Are the toilets single-sex or ‘gender-neutral’ i.e. mixed sex?

Why do you need to ask this?

The law in Wales requires toilet facilities in schools to be single sex from the age of 8. Gender-neutral or mixed-sex toilets discriminate against the protected characteristic of ‘sex’ in order to prioritise another ‘gender reassignment’.

  • Mixed-sex facilities also ignore the rights of those with other protected characteristics, such as pupils of either sex whose religion prohibits close contact with members of the opposite sex, or pupils with additional needs whose requirement for privacy and dignity is also important.
  • Advice from some organisations further undermines this legal obligation, suggesting that it could be discriminatory to not allow a trans-identified pupil to use the toilets or changing rooms of their choice. In fact, the Equality Act specifically allows for the provision of single-sex facilities in order to achieve a legitimate aim e.g. of privacy, dignity or safety. (EA2010 Schedule 3 part 7; EA2010 Schedule 23).
  • Many schools have been told that mixed-sex toilets reduce bullying. There is no reliable evidence for this claim. However, there is considerable (mostly anecdotal) evidence to suggest that sexist bullying and ‘period-shaming’ increase in mixed-sex toilets, and that both male and female pupils dislike them.
What should you expect?
  • The school should adhere to the law in this regard.
  • If the school has mixed-sex toilets they should be able to provide evidence of consultation with pupils as required by the UN Rights of the Child, specifically: Article 3. the right to have all children’s best interests taken into account as a primary consideration; Article 12. the right for children to have their views respected.
  • If the school states that mixed-sex toilets reduce bullying they should provide evidence.
What to ask

What is the school doing to ensure that the rights of ALL children are upheld?

Education must be provided in a way that respects the inherent dignity of the child, enables the child to express his or her views freely in accordance with article 12(1) and to participate in school life. … Compliance with the values recognized in article 29(1) clearly requires that schools be child friendly in the fullest sense of that term and that they be consistent in all respects with the dignity of the child.” The state should “strengthen its efforts to promote within the family, schools, and other institutions respect for the views of children, especially girls, and facilitate their participation in all matters affecting them.”

Article 12. UN Rights of the Child.

Why do you need to ask this?
  • The majority of the guidance on equality and inclusion (including trans inclusion) in relation to the curriculum and the school in general, has been produced by lobby groups. The advice is frequently discriminatory and often illegal. The relevant rights are:
    • Article 2. the right not to be discriminated against
    • Article 3. the right to have all children’s best interests taken into account as a primary consideration
    • Article 5. the right for children to have parental support to aid them in exercising their rights, and to have their evolving capacities taken into account
    • Article 12. the right for children to have their views respected
    • Article 14. the right for children to have a religious affiliation without this hindering their rights to non-discrimination or privacy
    • Article 16. the right to privacy
    • Article 18. the right for children to have their parents take primary responsibility for their best interests, and the right of children to have the state assist their parents in fulfilling this responsibility.
  • If the curriculum and teaching approach are ideologically-led, even with the best intentions, children can feel obliged to go along with the prevailing ethos – for example that it is bigoted or transphobic to reject the idea that it is possible to change sex. This raises concerns about freedom of speech and freedom of belief, and increases the likelihood that children who do not agree with these ideas will self-censor, or face bullying. 
What should you expect?

Schools should ensure that the curriculum, the teaching approach, and the general atmosphere of the school does not discriminate against individuals or groups, particularly in relation to the protected characteristics of sex, sexual orientation, belief or religion, and that a diversity of views are encouraged and accepted.

Template email/letter

Dear name of Headteacher / Safeguarding Lead / RSE lead

My child, name, is in class/form/year.

I am writing to request an in-person meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss the proposed content and delivery of RSE lessons at the school as from September 2022.

In particular, I would appreciate some clarity on the following questions: delete as required

  • Does the school use external organisations, trainers or resources to deliver RSE lessons?
  • If so, which ones will you be using and how are they checked and vetted?
  • How will you assess whether the materials and teaching approach are objective, critical, and pluralistic?
  • What measures will you take to ensure that the teaching of gender identity does not conflict with these requirements, particularly in relation to ensuring that information is factual and unbiased.
  • How will you assess whether topics taught in RSE are age-appropriate for pupils
  • (for secondary schools only) What measures are taken to ensure that pupils are aware that sexual violence (such as is routinely displayed in pornography or otherwise normalised as ‘kink’) is not part of a healthy sexual relationship? Or that sexting and under-age sex is illegal?

I would also appreciate clarification of the school’s equality policy, particularly with regard to the protected characteristics, and how you ensure that the rights of all children are upheld.

For example:

  • What measures are taken to ensure that the teaching of gender identity in RSE does not conflict with the rights of those with the protected characteristics of sex and sexual orientation?
  • What is your policy in relation to single-sex toilets and changing room provision, in relation to the protected characteristics of sex and religion/belief, and regarding trans-identified pupils.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

Your name

Download our letter here in English and Welsh.
Please edit according to your needs before sending.


  • Ask to meet in-person, ideally with the headteacher, the RSE lead and the school safeguarding lead so that the issues you raise can be dealt with there and then.
  • If they are reluctant to meet with you, it’s fine to keep asking.
  • If you know other parents are concerned, ask for a meeting as a group. Many parents and pupils are concerned about RSE; if you are representing a range of voices it will be harder to dismiss your concerns.
  • Make a list of questions to ask and points you want to make in advance. You can use personal stories and evidence from your own experience to back these up, supported by research and statistics.
  • Think about what you would like the outcome to be and if you don’t feel reassured by the meeting ask for further information or say you will get back to them.
  • Please let us know how you get on. We’ll collate that information and use it to strengthen the campaign. Email us at [email protected].

Advice for follow-up

What should you do if you are not happy with the answers you get?
  • Put your complaint in writing. Be specific regarding the policy or rights which are being ignored. Give a date by when you wish to receive a reply.
  • Copy it to the chair of the governors, to your Senedd members (you have five, one in the constituency and four regional representatives) and Education Minister Jeremy Miles ([email protected]).
  • Ideally, ask for a meeting with the chair of the school governors.
  • Send a copy to Merched Cymru so that we can collate the information and share updates.
If you don’t get a response…
  • If you’ve not received a reply within 2-3 weeks – ask again.
  • If you still don’t get a reply, go through the official complaints system.

Schools have an obligation to liaise with parents and carers on this topic and it is reasonable and responsible of parents to seek to be informed.

Links and resources

Download our flyers to distribute to other parents, in English and Welsh.

Further information about RSE resources & providers
Advice for follow-up
Other links

Humanise: A resource for RSE teachers with curriculum ideas and opportunities to contribute.

Merched Cymru's content on RSE