A state-funded Jewish school has admitted censoring a history textbook to remove references to homosexuality and gay people.
Educators at Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ school in north-east London used a permanent marker to black out the word “homosexuals” several times in a history book’s section on Nazi persecution.
The chapter now tells the students, “They persecuted any group that they thought challenged Nazi ideas: [redacted] were a threat to Nazi ideals on traditional family life.”
Photos of women drinking and smoking and an image of Fred Astaire dancing with Ginger Rogers were also removed from the book, and images of women were censored to avoid showing their chests, arms, shoulders and skin above the knees, according to secularism organisation Humanists UK.
Concerned members of the community sent the book to the organisation, The Guardian reported.
Jay Harman, the charity’s education campaigns manager, told The Guardian the school’s censorship was “shocking” and “very worrying”.
“It is simply not acceptable for a state-funded school to take such a censorious, homophobic, and misogynistic approach to education. Nor is it acceptable for such a school to be rated ‘good,'” he said.
Harman said the UK’s Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) has said schools “that ignore different sexual orientations and the beliefs of groups are not meeting their obligation under the Equality Act.”
A spokesperson for Yesodey Hatorah said the censorship was “old news” and it was well-known that the school redacted textbooks.
“This policy has nothing to do homophobia or misogyny, but is to protect our girls from sexualisation in line with our parents’ wishes and religious beliefs,” he told The Guardian.
An OFSTED spokesperson said UK schools were duty-bound to promote fundamental values, including “mutual respect and tolerance of those who hold values different from their own”.
“We will not hesitate to act where we have concerns that schools are failing to uphold these values,” they said.
“Inspectors have recently visited the school and will publish their findings in due course.”