The Eshel Pledge Campaign

Making Orthodox Schools A Place Where LGBTQ Students Can Thrive Take the Pledge

The Pledge Background

 

Micha Thau, a student at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles, suffered for two years in anxious fear before he came out of the closet. After coming out, he realized that he didn’t want other students to have to go through the same experience, so Micha and his principal, Rabbi Ari Segal, drafted a policy to let LGBTQ students at Shalhevet know — from day one — that they have nothing to fear. Read more about Micha’s story here.

This story is all too common for LGBTQ students at Orthodox high schools. Many live in isolation and fear that they will be ostracized and rejected from their communities if they come out. Often, they feel they have no choice but to suffer in silence or leave their community.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The first step that every school can take to support the well-being of their LGBTQ students is to adopt a full LGBTQ inclusion policy. 

 

 

 

Eshel is working to make Micha’s pledge a national standard for all Orthodox high schools. 

 

 

A growing movement is calling on our community to take responsibility for ensuring the safety and well-being of our LGBTQ students. 

 

600+ petition signatures

90+ appeal videos from students, alumni, and parents

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5 Orthodox high schools schools adopted transparent LGBTQ inclusion policies

A current snapshot of the landscape:

To date, 5 Orthodox schools have made their LGBTQ inclusion policies known to students and families. 5 other schools have partial LGBTQ inclusion policies, which generally constitutes including sexual orientation and/or gender identity in anti-harassment policies.

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Schools with transparent LGBTQ inclusion policies:

5

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Schools with partial LGBTQ inclusion policies:

5

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Schools that do not have a transparent policy:

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We deserve to know where our schools stand.

Does your school have a transparent LGBTQ inclusion policy?

Most Orthodox high schools do not include a transparent LGBTQ inclusion policy in their student/parent handbooks. For many schools, this is the first step they can take to ensure the well-being of LGBTQ students.

Make sure every Orthodox high school has a transparent LGBTQ inclusion policy in place by the beginning of the 5780 school year.

Join the movement.

Over the last year, KeshetUK has worked together with Chief Rabbi Mirvis, Jewish schools and Jewish LGBT+ people to produce a groundbreaking report ‘The Wellbeing of LGBT+ Pupils: A Guide for Orthodox Jewish Schools’.

The purpose of this Guide is to reduce harm to LGBT+ young people in the Jewish community. Designed with practical application in mind, the Guide is split into clear chapters and appendices that cover:

  • The challenges that can be faced by some young people who might be struggling to reconcile their LGBT+ and Jewish identity
  • The use of appropriate language, and tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying
  • How to provide pastoral support to LGBT+ young people
  • A review of UK equalities legislation and schools’ inspection criteria
  • A glossary of current LGBT+ terminology
  • How to have supportive conversations with LGBT+ young people

THE ESHEL PLEDGE

NO EXPULSION

[Our School] supports and respects all of our students. We will not expel, dismiss, suspend or otherwise discipline students for coming out and being open about their gender identity or sexual orientation.

 

NO BULLYING

No member of [Our School]’s administration, faculty, or student body will be permitted to harass or discriminate against any student on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

 

NO REPARATIVE THERAPY

[Our School] will not recommend, refer, or pressure students towards “reparative” or “conversion therapy.”

SUPPORT

[Our School] will strive to connect students struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity with the support services that they need. If appropriate services cannot be found on school grounds, we will connect students with such opportunities outside of the school.

 

INTEGRATION

Being open about one’s sexual orientation will not preclude full participation in religious activities. [Our School] will provide closeted, and “out” students with religious guidance as they need it, with staff who are trained to help teens manage the coming-out process and its integration with religious values.

OPEN ADMISSION

An applicant’s or a parent’s gender identity or sexual orientation will not have a negative impact on the admission process for [Our School].