JCCV not seeking law change | AJN

FAITH-BASED SCHOOL STAFF

JCCV not seeking law change

‘The JCCV is comfortable with the present legislative settings. In particular, we understand that the larger Victorian Jewish day schools have not expressed a desire to exercise this power or a need for it.’

By PETER KOHN
October 27, 2022, 10:24 am 

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy in 2017. Photo: Peter Haskin

THE Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) stated this week that it is satisfied with the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act (EOA) that prohibit discrimination in hiring and firing practices of schools.

The roof body was responding to reports that Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy has committed a Coalition government to amending the EOA to allow faith-based schools to discriminate in selecting teaching staff who share the school’s values and beliefs.

Guy’s commitment to the change surfaced last week after he reportedly raised it during a meeting with the Islamic Council of Victoria, according to The Guardian Australia.

Contacted by The AJN, a Liberal Party spokesperson responded, “The Liberals will protect religious freedoms to allow Jewish schools to employ people who are aligned with their values. An individual’s sexuality, gender and ethnicity would also be equally protected from discrimination under these laws. Any proposed changes would only occur after broad consultation and would need to protect every Victorian from discrimination.”

Apart from some latitude in hiring religious education teachers, Victorian schools have not been allowed to discriminate when hiring teaching staff since June, after changes to the EOA which prohibit staff selection made on sexual, gender identity or marital status.

Contacted by The AJN this week, JCCV president Daniel Aghion stated, “The JCCV is comfortable with the present legislative settings. In particular, we understand that the larger Victorian Jewish day schools have not expressed a desire to exercise this power or a need for it.”

Approached for comment, Mount Scopus Memorial College principal Rabbi James Kennard told The AJN, “Mount Scopus does not mandate, and never would mandate, that teachers’ and students’ lifestyles reflect the school’s religious values. Therefore this proposed change would not affect our school.”

Bialik College principal Jeremy Stowe-Lindner reiterated his firm opposition to any form of discrimination in schools, which he had stated in his submission to the 2018 Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry into legislative exemptions for faith-based schools.

Independent candidate for Hawthorn Melissa Lowe stated, “Victorians have repeatedly shown that they don’t support discrimination based on gender or sexuality.”

Meanwhile, the Coalition stated it would provide an additional $3.3 million over the next four years to the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria to enable it to better serve multicultural communities, as well as a further one-off $100,000, should its application for charitable status be successful.

Mount Scopus Memorial College Child Wise Report 2022: The LGBTQIA+ Recommendations

Mount Scopus Memorial College

Recommendations from Child Wise Report 2022

17. Cultural and language diversity, gender, LGBTQIA+, disability, accessibility and inclusion of students is acknowledged within policies and procedures and training across Mount Scopus and includes references on how to make reasonable adjustments to improve the safety and wellbeing of students.

18. MSMC staff, leaders and Board members should receive diversity training (to include culturally and linguistically diversity, LGBTQIA+, disability and additional educational needs).

[Letter to Old Collegians] / [Recommendations]

MSMC-Child-Wise-Review-findings-and-recommendations

MSMC-Recommendations-from-ChildWise-Report

The Queer sessions at Limmud Oz Melbourne 2022

Melbourne hosts Limmud Oz on September 3 and 4 2022.

This year’s packed programme includes two queer-themed sessions, both on Sunday September 4.

Sunday September 4 • 10:00am – 10:50am • Ruben Shimonov

Sephardic, Mizrahi and LGBTQ+: Lifting our stories out of the margins

How have LGBTQ+ experiences been represented in Sephardic-Mizrahi cultures? What are challenges that Sephardic-Mizrahi Queer Jews have faced in finding spaces that fully embrace their identities? We’ll explore these questions and then focus on the creation of a grassroots movement that has provided a vibrant and much-needed community at the intersection of LGBTQ+ and Sephardic-Mizrahi life. 

Sunday September 4 • 12:00pm – 12:50pm • Shoshana Gottlieb

All about Chava: The representation of queer Jewish women in film and television

Let’s examine the ways in which television and film represent (or misrepresent) the Jewish/queer experience and how this may impact our lives and identities.

Check out the full programme here.

Reaction to Religious Discrimination Bill | AJN

‘NO BALANCE WILL PROVIDE PERFECT JUSTICE FOR EVERYBODY’

Reaction to Religious Discrimination Bill

By GARETH NARUNSKY
December 2, 2021, 11:01 am  

AS the latest draft of the federal government’s Religious Discrimination Bill is discussed in parliament and the media, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said “it is appropriate that we are having this debate during Chanukah”.

“As much as the Jewish people admired many aspects of Hellenistic learning and civilisation, we totally rejected any attempt to forcibly assimilate our people into the then prevailing culture, and give up our beliefs and our identity,” he said.

“No faith community should be pressured into assimilating into today’s prevailing secular culture.

“It is particularly important for the religious organisations of minority faith communities to continue to be free to look after the religious and cultural needs of those communities.”

Commenting more specifically on the bill, Wertheim noted some of the “more contentious” aspects of the previous drafts have been removed, notably protections allowing employers to restrict religious speech outside the workplace – commonly referred to as “the Folau clause” – and the conscience protection for healthcare professionals.

“What is left is a conscientious attempt to balance prohibitions against religious discrimination with the freedom of religious organisations to operate according to their ethos,” he said. “No such balance will provide perfect justice for everybody. This bill tries to minimise the scope for injustice.”

Contrary to misconception, the bill does not speak to whether religious schools can exclude LGBTQI+ students – the Sex Discrimination Act already technically permits this – but under the legislation religious institutions would be allowed to have faith-influenced hiring policies, although these policies would need to be made public.

But Jewish organisations The AJN spoke to indicated they would not use the provision.

Moriah College principal Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler said the school seeks to employ high-calibre staff and “gender, identity, race and religion make no difference”.

“We aim to integrate Modern Orthodox Zionist Jewish values into our modern world and society, and we view the diversity of our educators and workforce as a huge benefit in achieving this goal,” he said.

“Diversity enriches the educational experience for our children.”

Emanuel School principal Andrew Watt said the school aspires to be “welcoming and inclusive … known for its genuine acceptance and understanding of diversity”.

“Emanuel School employs both Jewish and non-Jewish staff. We welcome staff and students into our school community, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Our enrolment and recruitment practices will remain unchanged,” he said.

Montefiore CEO Robert Orie said, “With more than 1000 employees, Montefiore is proud to employ a diverse workforce that spans many cultures, traditions and LGBTQI+ groups and our residents support and celebrate the diversity of our staff.”

Meanwhile, the state government said it is still committed to making amendments to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, but will wait to do so once the federal legislation is passed.

“This will allow the government to closely consider the Commonwealth legislation to ensure that its interaction with NSW legislation can be fully understood and that constitutional inconsistency is avoided,” said Attorney-General Mark Speakman.

But NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark urged the government to act without further delay.

“The Parliamentary Joint Select Committee heard wide-ranging submissions from the community and produced a comprehensive and well-considered report,” he said.

“The Attorney-General has announced that religious discrimination will be outlawed in NSW, which is one of only two states in Australia that doesn’t have laws against religious discrimination.

“The NSW government has an opportunity to act now. We look forward to seeing these laws progressing through Parliament.”

Jewish schools react to proposed law | AJN

LEGISLATION TO PROTECT LGBTQI+ TEACHERS

Jewish schools react to proposed law

By CARLY DOUGLAS
December 2, 2021, 1:00 pm 

PROPOSED legislation that would prohibit religious schools in Victoria from firing or refusing to hire teachers based on gender and sexual identity has been met with a mixed reaction from within the Jewish community.

The Andrews’ government bill, introduced to Parliament in October, seeks to protect LGBTQI+ Victorians’ right to work in faith-based schools.

Last month, a group of religious leaders from varying faiths sent an open letter to Victoria’s Attorney-General, Jaclyn Symes, opposing the legislation, stating that it “unfairly targets religious bodies and educational institutes”.

Among the signatories was Rabbi Shimon Cowen from the Institute for Judaism and Civilisation. He told The AJN that the legislation is “an incredible invasion of religious life,” accusing the state government of attempting to “edit Judaism”.

He called politicians who support it “hypocrites,” noting that parliamentarians are allowed to discriminate based on political views and activity when it comes to the staffing of their office.

But most Jewish schools were generally more supportive.

Bialik College principal Jeremy Stowe-Lindner, who proudly recalled that his was the first school in Australia to sign up to the Marriage Equality campaign, told The AJN, “We are all created equally and I strongly encourage the law to support this, and prevent discrimination.”

Without it, he reflected, “Future generations would look at us with the same incredulity that we hold when we consider those who opposed the emancipation of slaves, universal suffrage or civil rights.”

The King David School principal Marc Light concurred, stating, “We oppose any legislation that discriminates against people based on their gender or sexual identity.”

He added, “It is important that LGBTQI+ students get the message that they are not alienated, excluded or rejected on the basis of their identity.”

Helen Greenberg, principal at Sholem Aleichem College, said, “We strongly embrace any changes that allow Victorians to continue to be free to live and work free from discrimination.”

Leibler Yavneh College principal Cherylyn Skewes agreed, noting, “Our view is clear. No staff member should be subject to discrimination or termination on the basis of their sexual identity.”

Noting that the legalisation would remove the right of schools to sack a staff member because of their sexuality, Mount Scopus Memorial College principal Rabbi James Kennard said, “Since that would never happen at Mount Scopus, the bill is not especially relevant to our school.”

Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum of Yeshivah–Beth Rivkah Colleges had some reservations about the bill. He said that “while people’s private lives are not a factor in their hiring, a school was not generally an appropriate place for staff to discuss or flaunt their sexual behaviour, whether heterosexual or homosexual.”

He also pointed out that while “the aims of the legislation to prevent discrimination were laudable, there was some concern that activists could potentially misuse the legislation by challenging the curriculum, or even the teaching of certain sections of the Torah”.

But not everyone is on board. A member of another Orthodox school community told The AJN that if the bill were to pass, it “could be a problem” because they would not have the “flexibility they would need regarding LGBTQI+ staff teaching their students”.

On a federal level, after a 2018 pledge by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the PM recently introduced his Religious Discrimination Bill to the floor. The legislation – if passed – will offer protection for faith-based schools, institutions, hospitals and aged-care facilities that wish to prioritise applicants of their faith. While it will be several months before the Senate votes on the bill, the legislation could override the Victorian Government’s anti-discrimination bill.

The elephant in the room: sex education in our Jewish schools | +61J

Leibler Yavneh College: Policy for The Wellbeing of LGBTI+ Students

Leibler-Yavneh-Colleges-Policy-for-the-Wellbeing-of-LGBTI-Students-Letter

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Leibler Yavneh College: Policy for The Wellbeing of LGBTI+ Students

Leibler-Yavneh-College-The-Wellbeing-of-LGBTI-Students-Policy

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