JFS head won't meet school's gay ex-pupils

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2012
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The head-teacher of JFS has refused to meet gay and lesbian former pupils to discuss the methods of teaching of homosexuality at the school - but has promised to "review" the school's approach.

Former JFS pupils, including co-convener of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender forum Keshet UK, Dave Shaw, had asked to meet head Jonathan Miller to discuss the reference to "gay cure" organisation JONAH in a Jewish studies lesson last month, and future approaches to the topic.

Mr Shaw said the group was "disappointed" that the head had refused to meet LGBT alumni. He gave no reason for turning them down.

In a letter to the school, former students said: "We think it would be beneficial to talk about the options available for students who identify as LGBT or are struggling with same-sex attractions whilst concurrently retaining their Jewish identities."

Mr Shaw said: "We firmly believe that, as a state-funded school, JFS, like all Jewish schools, must be able to demonstrate that it meets its statutory obligation to be proactive in preventing bullying on the basis of sexuality and create an environment where all students feel included."

He said Keshet UK was preparing material to submit to JFS's internal review of its teaching of the subject and would be delivering teacher packs to JFS for LGBT History month.

Responding, Mr Miller said that there were "doubtless students who, unfortunately, have unhappy memories of their time at JFS for a variety of different reasons. For some adolescents, grappling with their sexuality is challenging in any environment."

He confirmed the review of JFS's "approach to the topic of homosexuality in the light of recent events."

Last updated: 1:26pm, February 2 2012