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London school removed mentions of homosexuality from GCSE textbooks

The school has come under fire for censoring its GCSE textbooks

2018-03-11

A London school has come under fire for removing mentions of homosexuality from a GCSE textbook. 

Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls' School, an Orthodox Jewish school in Stamford Hill, London, redacted images and words from Understanding The Modern World, an AQA GCSE history textbook. 

A section about Nazi persecution blacked out references to homosexuality and the book now reads: "They persecuted any group that they thought challenged Nazi ideas: [redacted] were a threat to Nazi ideas on traditional family life". 

According to the Metro, images of women drinking, smoking and driving with men along with an image of Fred Astaire dancing with Ginger Rogers were also removed from the book. 

Images of women were censored to avoid showing their chests, arms, shoulders and skin above the knees while a section of the Supreme Court case Roe v Wade, which made abortion a legal right in the US, was also censored. 

A spokesman for the school defended the censorship and claimed it was "well known" that the school redacts its textbooks in order to "protect girls from sexualisation". 

He told the Guardian: "Old news, old news. It is well known that we redact our textbooks and it has been reported time and again as well as being documented by all relevant authorities.

"This policy has nothing to do with homophobia or misogyny, but is to protect our girls from sexualisation in line with our parents' wishes and religious beliefs." 

Humanists UK received copies of the AQA GCSE history textbook from concerned members of the community and the charity's education campaigns manager called the move unacceptable.

He said: "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 as good." 

"Once again, the consequences of giving religion free reign over our education system are brought into sharp focus. Children deserve so much better than this, so we hope Ofsted will now investigate and take action immediately."

An Ofsted spokeswoman said: "Ofsted is clear that all schools have a duty to actively promote fundamental British values. This includes 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 and to ensure that pupils are properly prepared for life in modern Britain."