A Hasidic Jewish school in London has been ordered not to admit new pupils until it changes its policy on teaching about LGBTI issues, such as same-sex relationships and gender reassignment.
The UK’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) has prohibited Beis Aharon School from admitting any new pupils until it meets standards for independent educational institutions. This would include teaching pupils about same-sex relationships and gender reassignment, said Judge Hugh Brayne, who rejected an appeal by the school to overturn Ofsted’s ruling.
Jewish school ‘prevents respect’ for LGBTI community
The school, in the Stamford Hill neighborhood of North London, had refused to include LGBTI issues on its curriculum. In response, the Care Standards tribunal, which ruled on the school’s appeal, said the Department for Education’s actions were ‘proportionate and necessary’. The Judge added that failure to teach about LGBTI issues ‘prevents the school from encouraging respect for people who have such characteristics’.
The decision is set to impact the Haredi education system in the UK at large. As part of its appeal, the school had argued that same-sex relationships and gender reassignment were forbidden in the Jewish faith, and therefore could not be taught. But Judge Brayne said the school’s pupils would be ill-equipped ‘to enter modern British society’ without such teachings, because modern British society ‘accepts as part of its diversity civil partnerships, gay marriage, families with same-sex parents and acceptance of transgender persons’.
Religious schools teach ‘limited view’
Ofsted has increasingly been clamping down on discriminatory independent religious school curriculums. In 2014, the Department for Education introduced changes that required such institutions teach ‘fundamental British values’. Last year, an inspection of 22 Islamic and Christian schools found 17 were either inadequate or requiring improvement, with criticism centring on the ‘limited view of the world’ being provided to pupils.
Beis Aharon, an all-boys school, was also criticized by Oftsed for failing to ‘encourage respect for women and girls’. The Ofsted report revealed that ‘Pupils universally consider that the role of women is to “look after children, clean the house and cook”, while men “go to work”.’
The tribunal that turned down the Beis Aharon appeal said all children had the right to benefit from an education that met Oftsed standards.
Main Image: Flickr