New education measures means Jewish schools will have to teach the existence of same-sex relationships, according to guidelines issued by the umbrella body for Jewish education in the UK.
The document was issued after MPs backed the Government’s new Relationship and Sex Education measures.
“Faith schools are able to teach about sexual relationships, including LGBT+ relationships, from a faith perspective,” said PaJeS. “They should however also teach students that UK law allows for all types of relationships and must teach students the importance of showing tolerance and respect for all.”
PaJeS, which is part of the Jewish Leadership Council, advised schools comfortable with teaching Judaism’s view towards sex and relationships “to adopt this route to teach LGBT+ relationships, which can be covered as part of Jewish Studies”.
For schools not comfortable delivering the curriculum in this way, PaJeS said: “Lessons promoting tolerance must be incorporated within the school’s curriculum.”
It added that students could be introduced to the concept of same-sex relationships “tangentially” such as when teaching Jewish sources, for example in Parshat Acharei Mot, or when teaching Holocaust education and the different groups persecuted.
The Government’s inclusion of a parental opt-out from sex education in secondary school until three terms before the child turns 16 has been quietly welcomed in many corners of the Charedi community.
This week PaJeS sought to reassure schools that there is no requirement to teach sex education at primary school but said “schools may wish to do so”. At secondary school, PaJeS said that while parents can opt to withdraw their child from sex education, “it is good practice to include the student in this decision”.
However, some Orthodox Jewish campaigners still wish to see the Government’s new RSE Bill defeated, including a new group called The Values Foundation for Faith and Families in Education which launched at Parliament on Monday.
The new group is led by Judith Nemeth, a former director of the now-defunct National Association of Orthodox Jewish Schools (NAJOS), who said the Equalities Act 2010 had “caused more inequality and intolerance” and that “protected characteristics are supposed to be equal but some are more equal than others”.
The Values Foundation claims support from Rabbi Avroham Gurwicz, who heads the giant Gateshead Talmudic College, and the Rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC).
It also supports the new 40 Days initiative which aims to “protect the innocence of children” and “awaken the country to the realities of the RSE guidelines and show their support for traditional family structures and values”.
It added that the new RSE guidelines “reflect a new morality based on modern ideologies that are not rooted in Judaeo-Christian principles upon which the UK was established”.