What are Welsh schools teaching children about sex, gender and sexuality?

We’re concerned that RSE lessons under the new curriculum are breaching schools’ duty to be pluralistic, and introducing ideas about sex, sexuality and gender that are not age-appropriate.

Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is compulsory in Wales and parents are not able to withdraw their children from these lessons. Each school has been asked to develop their own curriculum in consultation with parents, carers, and with children and young people. This is a sensitive subject area that needs to be handled carefully. Information needs to be scientifically and legally accurate and safeguarding must always be paramount.

Schools are obliged to ensure that the curriculum and the teaching approach are:

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 identity, 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.

Pluralistic i.e. a range of viewpoints must be offered rather than a single ideological or political ‘take’.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case, particularly when schools use third-party providers and external resources.

What are the problems?

Many providers take an ideological rather than an evidence-based approach to issues of sex and gender, suggesting for example that there are more than two sexes, that sex is a social construct and that the concept of gender identity is an established fact rather than a highly contested view with no basis in law or science. Many resources are age-inappropriate. Some providers ignore or misrepresent the Equality Act, others actively work to dismantle boundaries – particularly but not exclusively in relation to female pupils. Most ignore issues of safeguarding. Our research has shown that the most common suppliers of RSE content to Wales’ secondary schools all promote the concept of gender identity as fact.

Given the sensitivity of this aspect of the curriculum, and the potential safeguarding risks, it’s really important that parents are fully informed about what children are being taught, who will be delivering RSE, and the kinds of resources that will be used.

Based on feedback from parents and teachers, here are our key questions, plus a template letter to send to your school.

  • 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?

Here is a template letter:

Dear name of Headteacher / Safeguarding Lead / RSE lead

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

I am writing in relation to the content and delivery of RSE lessons at the school.


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

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

  1. Does the school use external organisations, trainers or resources to deliver RSE lessons?
  2. If so, which ones are you using and how are they checked and vetted?
  3. How do you assess whether the materials and teaching approach are objective, critical, and pluralistic?
  4. What measures have you taken 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.
  5. How do you assess whether topics taught in RSE are age-appropriate for pupils?
  6. [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 are illegal? More broadly, 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.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Links to other resources

Many RSE resources are age-inappropriate, factually incorrect or ideologically-based. Once you know what’s being used, you can check them out here.

 Safe Schools Alliance have reviewed RSE content from providers including All About Me, Bish, Diversity Role Models, Do… RSE, Educate and Celebrate, Equaliteach, Jigsaw, The Proud Trust, Respect Yourself, Sexplain and Stonewall, highlighting issues with the content.

Transgender Trend’s ‘Inclusive Relationships and Sex Education in Schools (RSE): Statutory Guidance and External Providers’ analyses resources from the PHSE Association, Sex Education Forum and Brook, along with a number of other providers.

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].