UK education advice ‘violates Orthodox Jew’s human rights’

UK education advice ‘violates Orthodox Jew’s human rights’ January 3, 2019

SHRAGA Stern, a London-based Charedi activist, is, by all accounts, a right pain in the arse.

Shraga Stern

Described here as “a dreadful self-publicist”, last year he made headlines when he angered the Union of the Orthodox Hebrew Congregations  (UOHC) – the main umbrella body for London’s Charedi communities – by writing to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, asking him to step down as a guest speaker at a Board of Deputies dinner.

His reason? Stern argued that the Board of Deputies did not represent the Charedi community. And he threatened to organise a protest outside the event. He later called off the demonstration.

At the time UOHC President Rabbi Frand called Stern:

A single individual purporting to speak for the Charedi community and seeking to disrupt the Mayor of London’s presence at the upcoming Board dinner … without any authority.

Now sex education has raised its ugly head. Stern is targeting the Department of Education, which he accuses of violating his human rights by requiring teachers to teach his children about different genders and sexualities.

Legal representatives of Stern, a director of a London-based construction firm whose children attend an independent school, lodged his complaints in a lengthy letter to Education Secretary Damian Hinds MP and Education Minister Nick Gibb MP.

In their 19-page letter, they said the Government’s advice about how schools should teach “protected characteristics” had:

Violated [Stern’s] rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Stern is opposed to the government’s 2018 advice, covering the Independent Schools Standards, which states that people identifying as LGBT+ are “equally valid”.

The guidance requires:

The active promotion of respect for other people, even if they hold views, choose to follow a lifestyle, or have protected characteristics, different from a pupil’s own or those prevalent in the pupil’s immediate community.

It adds:

Respect does not require agreement – it requires acceptance that other people may be different and that that is equally valid.

In response, Stern’s lawyers said:

We note in particular the phrase that different ways of life may be ‘equally valid’. This statement goes to the heart of the ethical worldview taught by a faith school. Belief in God and in a religious way of life distinguishes between action that is morally good and action that is sin.

They added:

The Draft Advice goes beyond requiring toleration and in effect challenges the very essence of religious belief.

The Independent Schools Standards: guidance for independent schools – published in March 2018  by the Department of Education– says that required standards would not be met if a school:

a. Encourages pupils to see those of particular races or religions as being inferior in any way;

b. Suggests to male pupils that women and girls should be treated with less respect than males or that a woman’s role is subservient to that of a man – or vice versa;

c. suggests that same-sex marriages or civil partnerships should not be recognised as being lawful unions under civil law

d. Teaches that disabled people deserve less equal treatment, for example because of sins they are said to have committed in previous lives;

e. Encourages pupils to believe that women who are pregnant without being married should be punished.

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  • Does this guy remind anyone else of Bill Laswell?

  • Broga

    “Belief in God and in a religious way of life distinguishes between action that is morally good and action that is sin.”

    We have a bit of a problem here because I happen to think that I distinguish between a secular way of life that is rational and morally good and his religious way of life as superstitious, cruel, punitive, bigoted and destructive. How does he know that I am wrong and he is right?

    My next question what does he mean by God as there are so many different gods and every one is convinced that only their god is the true god? If he is an example of his god then I think we may be free to regard his god as a devil.

  • Götterdämmerung

    What this boils down to is that Stern feels his rights are being violated because he has to teach facts – I bet he has a problem with evolution too.

  • gedediah

    Any school that can’t meet those standards should be closed immediately.

  • Broga

    I don’t know who Bill Laswell is but he may want to change his appearance if he gets to know about this guy. Bill would not want to be confused with this sad, unreconstructed, bigot.

  • Carra McClelland

    The Draft Advice goes beyond requiring toleration and in effect challenges the very essence of religious belief.”

    Why yes, yes it does. And that is a good thing.

  • epeeist

    A number of independent religious (not “faith”) schools do run foul of national standards –

  • Aloha

    It didn’t say you had to accept homosexuality as “lawful.” Only that you must accept that it’s legal under civil law.
    But … the others statements (against misogyny and prejudice against disabled persons) were strongly and clearly stated.

    It almost seemed like the laws are more ready to come against Hindu and Muslim beliefs, but a little reluctant to come against (Judeo) Christian beliefs.

  • Jemolk

    A right pain in the arse? Yeah, absolutely. No one could possibly mistake him for being a left pain in the arse.

  • barriejohn

    And what does he mean by “sin”? I bet his idea of what is “morally good” is anything that is allowed by two-thousand-year-old religious book. That’s not my definition by a long chalk!

  • barriejohn

    His human rights haven’t been violated one little bit; he can just give up teaching. What about the human rights of his pupils?

  • Broga

    They don’t do “meaning.” When I tried to pursue this question with a proselytising Christian he said, “It’s just some thing you feel.”
    I made the obvious reply, ” I feel exactly the opposite, so where does that take us?”

  • barriejohn
  • Adrian

    He’s not a teacher, he has a construction business: his complaint is that the UK government won’t respect his “right” to keep his propertychildren ignorant and brainwashed…

  • barriejohn

    Yes – we were jumping to conclusions there!