Rabbi Danny Rich: Inclusive education benefits children

3 April 2019 – 27 Adar II 5779

3 April 2019

Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, Rabbi Danny Rich, has joined other faith leaders in signing a letter supporting the Government’s new regulations and guidance on sex and relationship education in England.

The letter came in response to a backlash from the more reactionary parts of the religious world, including some ultra-Orthodox Jews, against the inclusion of LGBTQI+ education in primary schools as part of this new guidance.

It was put together by the LGBTQI+ campaigning organisation Stonewall and published by the i.

Danny was joined in the list of signatories by leaders and educators from a diverse range of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other faith groups and community organisations.

The letter reads: “Inclusive education benefits children and young people from all walks of life. It is a powerful tool to see ourselves, our loved ones, and peers reflected in the stories we share.

“This kind of teaching builds a culture of respect for difference and the richness it brings us all, as well as allowing children to explore the common ground we all share. Removing stigma, challenging stereotypes, and having our identities validated is a vital tool in guarding against racism, hatred and bigotry.”

It adds: “Many of the schools leading in best practice are ones with a faith ethos. These schools are delivering inclusive teaching, not in spite of their faith ethos, but because of it – centring the messages of love, acceptance, tolerance, and understanding at the heart of all world religions.

“Within all our schools are LGBT young people, and young people with friends and family members who are LGBT. These include LGBT people of all faiths and backgrounds.

“We believe, as part of an inclusive education, that this reality needs to be recognised and affirmed in how we educate children to respect and value what makes us different. We never want to return to the days of Section 28, where discussion of LGBT lives and experiences was silenced within schools, and where intolerance and misunderstanding flourished.

“Instead, we stand together to celebrate the progress that has been made since then, and support action which ensures that all children are able to thrive, through education which encourages – not just acceptance of LGBT people – but acceptance of all.”

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