Jewish school faces closure for refusing to teach its young girls transgender issues despite its religious ethos being praised four years ago

Jul 14, 2017 by

by Richard Price, Daily Mail:

To the affluent commuters passing by, Vishnitz Girls School looks like any other well-maintained North London townhouse.

Were it not for a glimpse of white-shirted backs hunched over desks in the front room, you would not even suspect it was a school.

Unlike most primary schools, there’s no brightly-coloured sign advertising its presence. Indeed, a black-clad security guard in his sentry hut seems to be there mainly to keep unwanted visitors away.

With good reason. As one of a handful of Orthodox Jewish schools in Britain, it’s a prime target for terror attacks. Just across the Channel in France, similar schools have suffered unthinkable atrocities.

Yet the threat facing Vishnitz Girls School today does not come from Islamic extremists. Instead it is under attack from a force far closer to home; a force which wants to see it, and other faith schools like it, conform to a different ideology or be summarily closed down.

The unlikely battleground for this is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights. Last month, Vishnitz Girls School — where the teaching of Jewish and religious studies was singled out for praise by inspectors in its first Ofsted report of July 2013 — was presented with an ultimatum: teach your children about homosexuality and gender reassignment, or we will close you down.

In the space of four years, Ofsted inspectors have now graded it as a failing school, based on this sole issue.

To those who run Ofsted it is a noble cause. But to the Haredi Jewish families who send their daughters — aged three to ten — to the school, it represents an impossible dilemma.

Members of this conservative community — 30,000 of whom are centred on Stamford Hill, North London — are instantly recognisable by their black hats, ringlets and frock coats.

In their tradition, which, like Islam, involves segregation of the genders, the issue of sex education falls to parents rather than schools. The notion of teaching a seven-year-old Haredi girl about gender reassignment is anathema. Yet as far as Ofsted is concerned, Haredi schools face a simple choice: abandon a key religious principle or be closed down.

This is no isolated curiosity, affecting only the 45,000 or so British Haredi Jews. To people of faith, it is a familiar tale of the Left launching a sustained attack on religion.

Now those involved in Christian schools are linking arms with Orthodox Jews to challenge what they see as the Department for Education (DfE) pushing a secularist agenda.

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