Orthodox Jewish Schools Tell Government They Won’t Teach LGBT Lessons

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Orthodox Jewish
Rabbis in Britain’s main strict Orthodox Jewish communities have challenged the government, insisting their schools will not teach LGBT-related lessons. Rabbi Shraga Sherman, director of Chabad Lubavitch of the Main Line, is pictured outside the General Wayne Inn in Merion, Pa., Aug. 25, 2005. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy). Rainbow image by Daniel James/Unsplash

Rabbis representing Britain’s main strict Orthodox Jewish communities have challenged the government by insisting their schools will not teach LGBT-related lessons to pupils.

The British government requires independent schools to teach children about tolerance of people including those of same-sex orientation or who have reassigned their gender, The Jewish Chronicle reported. Schools also have to acknowledge the existence of LGBT people as part of relationships and sex education.

Schools have been directed “to demonstrate that pupils are taught to act respectfully to all people regardless of difference”.

However, the rabbis of Chinuch UK, an umbrella group set up two years ago to defend the Charedi education system, said their schools cannot comply with state requirements. The Chronicle described it as a “defiant challenge.”

Charedi or Haredi Judaism refers to groups within Orthodox Judaism who adhere strictly to their interpretation of Jewish law and values as opposed to modern values and practices. Charedi Jews regard themselves as the most religiously authentic group of Jews, although this claim is contested by other Jews.

In a statement, the Rabbis said that schools should “not describe to pupils lifestyles prohibited by the Torah” and “ensure that inspectors do not speak to pupils about these matters at all”, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

Capital punishment for homosexuality dates back to Genesis, where chapters 18 and 19 of the Hebrew Bible are concerned with “immorality” of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Like in Orthodox Judaism, homosexuality is also prohibited by Islam.

“However, no Muslim schools have taken such a clear stand against LGBT teachings up to now,” according to 5PillarsUK, an independent community media news and opinion platform for Britain and the wider Islamic world.

The U.K.’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) is responsible for inspecting educational institutions, including state schools and some independent schools.

Five Orthodox schools in a month are not in compliance on LGBT issues, 5Pillars reported.

Inspectors at the strict Orthodox Jewish schools concluded that “although pupils know that other people have religions and beliefs that differ from their own… they are not knowledgeable about what those beliefs are,” 5Pillars reported.

Under the U.K.’s Equality Law, even independent schools must provide some information about LGBT people. But The Journal reported that the government had given the strictly Orthodox groups, which have about 35 schools, hope that “there would be some flexibility by leaving it up to schools at what age it would be appropriate to cover such topics.”

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“It had widely been assumed that primary schools, at least, would be exempt from having to talk about LGBT equality,” the Chronicle reported.

However, government inspectors made it clear that LGBT subjects must be introduced starting in elementary schools.

Comments by 5Pillars readers showed this is a contentious but potentially unifying issue for Muslims and Jews. Here’s a sampling of responses:

“We need to take a stronger stance against this in our schools as well,” Ramona J Muhammad said.

“Maybe all the straight ppl need to stop making all these gay and trans kids,” Tammy Peay wrote.

“Christian schools should refuse to study about the Holocaust,” James Brickey said.