Pupils at a New York Orthodox Jewish girls' school have been told to delete their Facebook accounts or face expulsion. The ultimatum was given to girls aged 16 and 17 who attend Beis Rivkah High School . At least half the girls in the school year were taken out of their classrooms one by one, and given a letter demanding that they remove their profiles and pay an $100 fine each, or leave the school.
The Beis Rivkah High School, in Crown Heights in Brooklyn, reportedly gave the ultimatum to challenge declining levels of modesty among pupils. A school official told the community website Crownheights.info that Facebook accounts were a contributing factor to the fall in standards.
According to the Algemeiner website, school board members told one pupil that "it's not proper for us to have Facebook because girls might be talking to boys on Facebook or they might be putting up immodest pictures".
Parents and students expressed shock at the decision, but head teacher Shaindel Teichtel stood firm. She told Algemeiner that the school's policy on Facebook was more than two years old and ''in keeping with the highest quality standards of educating our students, within the context of a pure and sacred Torah environment".
It could still be possible for the teachers and pupils to reach a compromise in the dispute. A social networking site called FaceGlat was set up last year to serve as the Orthodox alternative to Facebook. It functions almost identically, but in keeping with Orthodox tradition restricts contact between male and female users.
However, one pupil said that the ban would be unlikely to change the behaviour of students. She said that "for the girls who do put up those kind of pictures and talk to boys, they'll talk to boys anyways".