A state-funded religious school has removed mentions of ‘homosexuals’ from its textbooks
A Jewish state school has admitted censoring its textbooks to eliminate references to gay people.
Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ school in Stamford Hill, north-east London, blacked out the word “homosexuals” several times in a history book’s account of Nazi persecution.
The chapter now tells students at the Orthodox school: “They persecuted any group that they thought challenged Nazi ideas: [redacted] were a threat to Nazi ideals on traditional family life”.
Yesodey Hatorah has also redacted mentions of women drinking, smoking and driving with men in textbooks.
Images of women have also been censored to omit any glimpse of their chests, arms, shoulders and legs above the knee.
A section on the Supreme Court case Roe v Wade, which made abortion a legal right in the US, is completely covered up, as well as an image of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing.
A sentence in a section about women in modern American society was also blacked out. It said: “They kissed in public.”
A spokesman for the school dismissed the development as “old news,” telling The Guardian that it was well-known that Yesodey Hatorah redacted textbooks.
He also denied that the practice was discriminatory, saying that it was implemented for the students’ wellbeing.
“This policy has nothing to do [with] homophobia or misogyny, but is to protect our girls from sexualisation in line with our parents’ wishes and religious beliefs,” he said.
The redacted sections came to light after concerned members of the community sent them to Humanists UK.
Jay Harman, the charity’s education campaigns manager, said the school’s censorship was “shocking” and “very worrying”.
He added: “In the past, Ofsted has said schools that take this approach, if they are ignoring different sexual orientations and the beliefs of groups … [then they] are not meeting their obligation under the Equality Act”.
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An Ofsted spokesperson said that schools were duty-bound to promote fundamental values, including “mutual respect and tolerance of those who hold values different from their own”.
“We will not hesitate to act where we have concerns that schools are failing to uphold these values,” they added.
“Inspectors have recently visited the school and will publish their findings in due course.”