Karine Jean-Pierre
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U.K.'s Chief Rabbi: Ending School Homophobia Is a 'Jewish Imperative'

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

In an effort to protect children from homophobic and transphobic bullying, Ephraim Mirvis, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, has published a guidance for Orthodox Jewish school staff to be inclusive toward LGBTQ students.

The paper, "The Wellbeing of LGBT+ Pupils: A Guide for Orthodox Jewish Schools," was created with KeshetUK, an organization that aids LGBTQ Jewish youth, reports The Telegraph.

The guidance advises teachers to punish students who use "gay" as an insult and declares that ending homophobia is a "Jewish imperative." The document also instructs staff not to give children "false reassurance" that their family members will accept them if they come out as transgender.

As the most traditional sect of the religion, Orthodox Judaism is unwelcoming to LGBTQ members. It has a track record of putting youth into conversion therapy camps and family members are known to encourage LGBTQ youth to marry against their sexual orientation.

In the letter, Mirvis informs schools that conversion therapy has been strongly condemned by doctors and psychologists. 

The document comes after news broke earlier this year that Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ school in London had removed LGBTQ content from its textbooks, along with text that mentioned women smoking and drinking.

"Our children need to know that at school, at home and in the community, they will be loved and protected regardless of their sexuality or gender identity," said Mirvis.

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