Segregation in co-educational faith schools should not be allowed, say Amina Lone and 21 others. Relationships and sex education is at risk of being hijacked for religious reasons, write Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain and 52 others. Plus Jim Lockie says freedom to express your views comes with responsibilities
We, the undersigned, are seriously concerned about the dilution of gender rights and equality regarding minority and in this case Muslim girls’ and women’s rights. We refer to the case of Al-Hijrah school, a co-ed faith school in Birmingham that has been segregating boys and girls during lessons and all breaks, activities and school trips (Gender-divided school is named, 11 July). The school was inspected by Ofsted, who judged it to be inadequate on a number of grounds including gender segregation.
We recognise the existence of single-sex schools but our concerns are with co-educational faith schools that apply gender segregation throughout the school day. It is as abhorrent as segregating people according to their race or sexuality. To engage in such conduct within a secular democracy raises fundamental questions about the type of society we are creating. Why are we allowing such educational institutions to waver from the basic freedoms our ancestors have fought for? We are in danger of creating a two-tier system in which minority women, especially Muslim women and girls, are being systematically treated as second-class citizens. Our progressive parties, institutions and even some on the left and within feminist circles seem to be abandoning the fight for gender equality in favour of religious dogma.