A Jewish elementary school in London may be forced to shut down after failing to meet government standards because it does not teach LGBT issues such as "gender reassignment and sexual orientation".
The Times of Israel reports that last month, the Vishnitz Girls School, a private Orthodox elementary school in the London suburb of Stamford Hill, failed three consecutive inspections from UK's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).
According to the Ofsted report on the school, teaching there defies the law as set out in the Equality Act 2010, which makes it mandatory for British schools to educate on a range of "protracted characteristics," including age, disability, race, sex and sexual orientation.
While the report acknowledges that the school's "[l]eaders and proprietors recognize the requirement to teach about the protected characteristics," it notes that the leaders nevertheless "acknowledge that they do not teach pupils about all the protected characteristics, particularly those relating to gender reassignment and sexual orientation."
"This restricts pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles," inspectors reported. "This means that pupils have a limited understanding of the different lifestyles and partnerships that individuals may choose in present-day society."
The report acknowledged that the school's culture is, however, "clearly focused on teaching pupils to respect everybody, regardless of beliefs and lifestyle."
While the school, which has 212 female students aged between three and eight years old, was rated as "good" by inspectors four years ago, the government may force it to close down, notes the Jerusalem Post.
According to the Ofsted report the religious values of the school mean it cannot comply with government requirements. "The proprietor and leaders agreed that the school's policy on the protected characteristics meant that the school could not meet these standards," the report stated.
Orthodox Jews consider homosexuality and transgenderism to be forbidden by Jewish law; however, while religious schools such as Vishnitz do not operate under the same curriculum as mainstream state schools, they are nevertheless "obliged to meet two separate sets of standards for sex and relationships education laid out by the Department for Education and Ofsted," notes The Telegraph.
In a blog post for Christians in Education, educator Gill Robins pointed out that while supposedly trying to promote tolerance, education officials were being intolerant of religious views that were in conflict with theirs.
"Ofsted has revealed its true agenda," Robins wrote. "It doesn't matter how good your school is in all other respects -simply refusing to teach very young children about gender reassignment will lead to your closure. That is the possible outcome for not only this school, but other Jewish schools which refuse, as a matter of faith, to teach about LGBT issues."
"There are just two options - protect the right of individuals to live and raise their children in accordance with their faith," Robins wrote, "or make a mockery of the Equality Act by closing schools that fail to comply with your LGBT agenda."
In April, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in London called on its members to promote LGBT+ issues to children as young as 2 years old, passing motion which urged teachers to "campaign to ensure a comprehensive age-appropriate content including promotion of LGBT+ matters for all schools from nursery throughout all phases of state education."