Rabbi says LGBT-inclusive education plan is an ‘eviction notice for Orthodox Jews’
A prominent Orthodox Jewish rabbi has claimed that requiring schools to teach about same-sex relationships is an “eviction notice.”
Rabbi Aaron Klein, an ultra-Orthadox rabbi, urged Charedi Jewish groups to rally against changes in the way independent faith schools are regulated.
A number of Charedi schools have been rebuked by education regulator Ofsted for failing to meet tests on ‘British values’ and for their teachings about LGBT people.
New proposed regulations and guidance set out in March would toughen the standards for independent faith schools, and up enforcement action on those that do not meet acceptable standards.
The government said: “The requirement is that the PSHE [Personal, Social, Health and Economic education] curriculum must be designed to encourage respect for other people, with particular regard to the protected characteristics [including sexual orientation and gender reassignment] set out in the Equality Act 2010.
“It is not sufficient for a school to say that its curriculum encourages respect for all people in a general way; that is not paying particular regard to protected characteristics.
“We would expect children of secondary school age to know about the protected characteristics and accordingly understand the ways that people can be different and respect people who are different in those ways.
“For younger children of primary school age, complying with the requirement in an age appropriate way could mean ensuring that they are aware of the ways in which people can be different and be respectful of those differences.”
It adds: “The standard will not be met if, for example, the PSHE curriculum suggests that same-sex marriages or civil partnerships should not be recognised as being lawful unions under civil law.”
The guidance continues: “The standard does not mean, for example, that schools must promote alternative lifestyles or same-sex marriage. Rather, it requires active promotion of respect for other people, even if they hold views, choose to follow a lifestyle, or have protected characteristics, different from a pupil’s own or those prevalent in the pupil’s immediate community.
“It cannot be met by a general policy of encouraging respect for all people because that does not pay particular regard to the protected characteristics, of which in an age-appropriate way, pupils must be made aware.
“‘Respect’ does not require agreement – it requires acceptance that other people may be different and that that is equally valid.
“A school can teach that its particular faith has teachings relevant to these matters, and explain to pupils what those teachings are.
“However, this does not mean that a curriculum, including that for religious education, can be planned or teaching provided which advocates or otherwise encourages pupils not to respect other people on the basis of a protected characteristic.”
The rabbi called on the community to resist the push to require basic LGBT-inclusive education, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
He wrote in Hamodia: “If we do not speak up and the draft is not amended to accommodate our needs, then there is no future for the Orthodox community in modern Britain and the document effectively acts as an eviction notice to our community.
“A school that does not teach a syllabus that includes totally alien atheistic values could be summarily closed.”
He claimed that the changes would be “impossible” to introduce and would make Jewish schools “illegal institutions.”
The rabbi blamed “the extreme secular movement” for pushing for the change.
He added: “Ironically, the proposed standards attempt to promote tolerance and respect for some elements of society, while being completely intolerant and disrespectful of our community and our religious principles.”
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It stated: “The school’s ethos is based on its founding principle of ‘unconditional adherence to the Shulcan Aruch (code of Jewish law).’
“This means that pupils are shielded from learning about particular differences, such as sexual orientation.
“In practice, across the curriculum this means that the explicit teaching of all the protected characteristics, specifically those that relate to gender or sexuality, is avoided.”
Ofsted adds that the school’s leadership “do not intend to” start teaching about the issues, despite the requirement to do so.
Three further Jewish schools were handed warnings this year.
Meanwhile illegally-operated Orthodox Jewish schools faced a probe over concerns about their practises, operating in secret and providing children with only a narrow faith-based education.