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Education

Orthodox Jewish rabbis tell Boris Johnson ‘no room for compromise’ in rejection of LGBT-inclusive education

Emma Powys Maurice May 19, 2020
Human Rights Watch slams 'discriminatory and regressive' trans rights plan

Boris Johnson. (RICHARD POHLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A group of 17 Orthodox rabbis have written to Boris Johnson declaring that they will refuse to compromise on LGBT-inclusive education in Jewish schools.

The government announced last year that age-appropriate LGBT-inclusive education will be compulsory in all UK schools from September 2020, following months of disruption outside of schools led largely by Muslim protestors.

While most schools happily agreed with this measure, a significant number of Orthodox Jewish schools have refused to comply and have been threatened with disciplinary measures from the education regulator Ofsted.

The Rabbinical Committee of the Traditional Charedi Chinuch has now appealed to Johnson to “allow us to continue to educate our children in keeping with our sacred traditions”.

Based in Stamford Hill, the centre of the UK’s Hasidic community, the rabbis warn of a growing sense of “anger and anxiety” at the prospect of faith schools being forced to acknowledge the existence of LGBT+ families.

Rabbis say there’s ‘no room for compromise’ on LGBT+ inclusivity.

Writing to the prime minister in a letter seen by The Jewish Chronicle, the religious leaders made clear that they would not accept the mandatory teaching and would not compromise on the matter.

They considered that the government has been given the false impression that there was “somehow room for negotiations or compromises on the Orthodox Jewish education, altering even minutely, practices and lifestyles we have inherited from our previous generations”.

The letter continues: “We have made it very clear, that we are obliged to follow by our Torah without changing anything whatsoever, and such individuals or organisations who indicate otherwise, do in no way represent our communities.”

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Calls for LGBT+ inclusive education at Birmingham Pride. (Jim Wood/Barcroft Media/Getty)

The rabbis speak of a “strong feeling of dejection and grief” among school leaders and governors, who fundamentally reject the LGBT-inclusive curriculum.

“These feelings are the result of the outrage felt over government pressure to make changes to the educational institutions that affect the very essence of our beliefs and practices.”

The government guidance states that every primary school child will learn about different types of families, including those with same-sex parents, while secondary school students will learn about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The lessons will reflect the law, teaching the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 as they apply to relationships.

Schools must consult parents in developing and reviewing their policy, but parents will not be given the power to veto the curriculum.

 

More: Chasidic community, LGBT-inclusive education, Orthodox Judaism, Rabbinical Committee of the Traditional Charedi Chinuch, rabbis, Stamford Hill

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