The Religion, the gender segregation and sex education in schools | Letters

We, the undersigned, are gravely concerned about the dilution of the equality of rights and equality for minorities and in this case Muslim girls ‘ and women’s rights. We refer to the case of Al-Hijrah school, one of the co-ed faith school in Birmingham has been the segregation of boys and girls during classes and breaks, activities and school trips (division according to the Sex of the school is appointed, July 11). The school was inspected by Ofsted, which judged it to be inadequate on a number of reasons, including the segregation between the sexes.

We recognize the existence of a single-sex school, but our concerns are the co-education of the faith schools that have segregation between the sexes throughout the school day. It is also abhorrent that the segregation of people based on their race or sexuality. To engage in such behavior in a secular democracy raises fundamental questions about the kind of society we are creating. Why are we allowing these institutions to fail of the freedoms our ancestors have fought for? We are in danger of creating a two-tier system in which minority women, particularly Muslim women and girls are systematically treated as second-class citizens. Our progressive parties, the institutions, and even a little on the left and in feminist circles seem to be the abandonment of the struggle for gender equality in favor of religious dogma.

In the land from which the suffragettes stood up, this steady erosion of the principles of gender equality would be ironic if it were not so dangerous. It seems we are sleepwalking into the hands of regression religious forces that want to dissolve the women of the basic human rights under the guise of religious expression. In any educational institution public or not, a respect of equality, a principle long established by the struggles fought in the whole of society, should be a cornerstone that is non-negotiable. If we do not act now, the policy of segregation between the sexes burden of the next generation of women and girls. We can not live in bunkers or allow a silo mentality, to hold in institutions funded by the state. We have only to look beyond our sisters in the united states, South Asia and the Middle East to see the negative impact culturally, socially and politically, that the ultra-conservatives have on the rights of women and democracy.

If we do not act collectively and fight against these systematic acts of gender discrimination, we will be responsible for collusion with the forces of regression seek to control and limit the rights of the next generation of women and girls.

Amina Lone, Co-director of the Social Action and Research Foundation, Pragna Patel Southall Black Sisters, Sara Khan Inspire, Iram Ramzan Journalist and founder of Sedaa, Tehmina Kazi Human rights activist, Amber Solitaire of the Writer, Aisha K Gill, Professor of criminology, University of Roehampton, Gina Khan, spokesperson for One Law for All, Dr. Elham Manea University and human rights activist, Aisha Ali Khan, Human rights activist, Zehra Zaidi, Founder of Stand Up and civic activist, Lejla Kuric Women’s rights activist, IIa Patel Women’s rights campaigner, Dr Sundari Anitha, University of Lincoln, Aliyah Saleem Vice-president of the Faith to the Infidels, Yasmin Rehman, Women human rights activist, Sandhya Sharma Women’s human rights activist, Ayesha Hazarika Commentator and comedian, Gita Sahgal Centre for Secular Space, Nasreen Rehman Human rights activist, vice-president of the National Commission on Forced Marriage, Dr Rumana Hashem of the Women’s rights campaigner, Maryam Namazie spokesperson Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All

• We would like to congratulate the government for ensuring – through the Children and of the Social Work Act of 2017, that relationships and sex education (RSE), will soon be taught in all schools in England. This is an important step in strengthening the future of the health and safety of children and young people. In addition, we note that the act, the secretary of education to publish the regulations and the statutory guidance on schools provisions of these subjects.

But it is open and indefinite, with the danger that CSR remains at risk of being hijacked by those who wish to give on topics such as access to confidential sexual and reproductive health services and contraception, as well as those who wish to limit the students to what they consider to be religiously acceptable notions of gender and sexual orientation. Schools, including faith schools, should be able to consider a reasonable range of religious and cultural viewpoints. But it is essential that the CSR that schools provide is accurate, balanced, and promotes the acceptance of diversity.

We therefore ask that the new statutory guidance on the teaching of the schools of CSR should require them to actively promote the acceptance of LGBT persons, and to provide, for students of sufficient maturity, factual information about contraception and abortion. We believe that CSR is inclusive and focused on ensuring that students are well informed should be paramount, so that efforts to ensure the long-term well-being and combating prejudice are not compromised.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain Chair, Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Chair of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Rev Canon Steve Chalke (Baptist), Founder and leader of the Oasis of the Learning Community, Rev Canon Jane Fraser (C, E) Sex and relationships, education specialist and head of sexual education to the charity of Bodysense, Jayne Ozanne, General Synod member and LGBTI equality activist, Very Rev Jeffrey John (C, E), Dean of St Albans, Derek McAuley Chief officer, general Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, Martin Pendergast (Catholic Roman), President of the Center for the Study of Christianity And Sexuality, Rev Professor Michael J Reiss (C, E) Specialist adviser to the House of Commons, education committee 2014/15 personal, social and health education survey, Rt Rev Alan Wilson, Anglican bishop of Buckingham, Revd Richard Adfield (C, E), Ruby Almeida, Chair of Quest (pastoral support for LGBT Catholics), Simon Barrow, Director of Christian think tank Ekklesia, Rev Richard Bentley (C, E), Rev Janet Conway (URC), Rev Roger Cornish (URC), Rev Marie Dove (Methodist), Rev Joe Edwards (C, E), Benjamin Ellis, President of the Jewish LGBTIQ inclusivity group, KeshetUK, Dr. Maria Exall (Roman Catholic) President of the Cutting Edge Consortium and the TUC LGBT+ Committee, Rt Rev Michael Doe, Preacher to gray’s Inn, former Anglican bishop of Swindon, rt rev David Gillett, Former Anglican bishop of Bolton, the Rev Dr Ruth Gouldbourne Co-minister, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London, Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb (Baptist), Co-chair of Accepting Evangelicals, Savitri Hensman (C, E) Equalities adviser in the care sector, and the writer on Christian social ethics and theology, Ruth Hilton, President of the Jewish sexual health charity of the ATT, Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz Leeds Synagogue, Fr David Ingledew (C, E) of All Saints, Hove, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi Birmingham Synagogue, the reverend Robert Jennings (URC), Minister at Glenorchy Church, Exmouth, Rev Richard Jones (CofE) Associate minister, Hereford Diocese, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner senior rabbi to Reform Judaism, Rev Richard Kirker (CofE) LGBTI equality campaigner, Rev Dr Jan van der Lely (CofE), Chairman of the Modern Church, Rev Stephen Lingwood (Unitarian) Minister of Bank Street Unitarian Chapel, Bolton, Jeremy Marks, Director of Courage UK, Rev Iain McDonald (URC), Rabbi David Mitchell, West London Synagogue, the Rev Tim Richards (URC) in the Middle of the Somerset Group, Rabbi Danny Rich, senior rabbi and chief executive, Liberal Judaism, Rev Professor Chris Rowland, (C, E), Dean Emeritus of the Ireland professor of exegesis of holy scripture at Oxford University, Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah Brighton Synagogue, Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky Menorah Synagogue, Manchester, Rt Rev Dr Peter Selby (CofE), a Former Anglican bishop of Worcester, the Rabbi Sybil Sheridan Newcastle Synagogue, Elaine Sommers (CofE), Co-Chair of Accepting Evangelicals Rev Tim Stead (C, E), Vicar of Holy Trinity, Headington, Oxford, Rev Stephen Terry (C), (E), Rector of the parish of Aldrington, Hove, the reverend Robert Thompson (C, E), Rev Keith Ward DD FBA (C, E) Regius professor of divinity emeritus at the University of Oxford, Rev Claire Wilson (C, E), Rev Simon Wilson (C, E), Rev Dick Wolff (URC), Minister at Oxford

• Giles Fraser (I applaud British Islam, the refusal to bow to the establishment, on July 7) makes a tantalizing case for believers and of their leaders in avoiding being “easy meat” for the institution. To change their point of view, being more moderate or accept the balls that are offered by our governors. I understand the argument that he is attempting to do. As a socially liberal atheist, I strongly support the right of peoples to freely believe in what they want, as long as it does not harm others. I, of course, in a free society, have the right to strongly disagree and oppose to these points of view.

Most of the problems caused by religion in the world, its leaders, its strict adherents, or one-sided interpreters of written texts from more than a thousand years. The majority of these people are, of course, men. Everywhere where the rights of women are violated, refused, or limited development, religion, and the men are not far behind. Giles own church has been an example through the centuries. Islam and Judaism have been less centralized, but the rabbi or the imam played a central role, not only for the interpretation of the scriptures, but the application of cultural norms, in particular against women.

I think that all the citizens of our democracy have a duty to uphold the law, as agreed by the parliament, but also to face the powerful, such as the government and the rich. They should plead the cause of their beliefs and support those without power, such as the Catholic women in Ireland or in Africa who have been raped and want an abortion, or Muslim women who are forced by their fathers, imams, or husbands to wear a veil on his face.

The freedom to stand up against the other and to express your point of view also has corresponding responsibilities. Most religions insist that the principal duty is to their own community or sect, rather than to society in general. Therefore, it is wise, if perhaps not right, that the governments were trying to appease their leaders. They are doing the same thing difficult for non-believers! Jim LockieHarrow, London

• Join the debate – email

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit