Chief’s guide for LGBT pupils
Mirvis produces ‘milestone’ guidelines he hopes will have a lasting impact on reducing threat to pupils
CHIEF RABBI Ephraim Mirvis has this week published ground-breaking guidance for Orthodox schools on their duty of care to LGBT+ pupils.
He says schools must adopt robust policies to prevent bullying and be equipped to offer pastoral support with sensitivity and understanding.
His 36-page booklet, The Wellbeing of LGBT+ Pupils, has been produced with input from LGBT+ Jews and with the support of KeshetUK, the organisation which promotes equality on their behalf within the Jewish community,.
Orthodox Jewish schools, Rabbi Mirvis emphasises, “can and must be a safe haven for all children and teens, a place where every pupil can feel nurtured and protected”.
Commenting on its publication, the Chief Rabbi said he believed the document was “an extremely significant milestone and will have a real and lasting impact on reducing harm to LGBT+ Jews across the Orthodox Jewish community.
“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.”
Dalia Fleming, KeshetUK executive director, said the organisation was proud of its involvement in the project and now looked forward “to working with schools, rabbis and educators across Jewish communities, supporting them to implement this guide so they can ensure their LGBT+ students reach their potential, free from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, discrimination and fear”.
In his introduction, the Chief Rabbi paid tribute to the organisation, which had been “totally respectful of Torah values, never seeking to undermine or contradict any issurim (prohibitions)) or important areas of hashkafa (religious outlook).”
He considered it an obligation to provide direction to schools because too often harm had been caused.
While not all LGBT+ students suffered from bullying, it was “clear that many do,” the guide states. Anyone who doubts “there are young LGBT+ people in our schools who have been left feeling so isolated that their very lives are in danger, has simply failed to grasp the reality confronting some of our students”.
School policies should carry an explicit commitment to the “welfare of LGBT+ pupils” and all staff should have at least a basic understanding of this.
The guide sets out a number of Torah values which should underpin its approach such as taking care of the way one’s speaks to others.
“The struggle to understand one’s sexual identity is particularly challenging at secondary school. Pupils who are LGBT+ have particular struggles, and more so within faith schools,” the guide says.
“Gender roles are assumed, heterosexual relationships are talked about and those whose sexual orientation is
It is clear that many students suffer from bullying’
Chief Rabbi Mirvis and marchers at last year’s Pride event in London