Term paper on gays? Not in this school
Only a few days ago the world, including Israel, marked the International Day against Homophobia, but it seems it must have been missed by someone at the Education Ministry.
The ministry recently informed a 12th grader that his term paper project, worth five credits, was disqualified because it deals with homosexuality.
The student, Yam Blum from the democratic school "Ayanot Hayarden" located in Kibbutz Amir, sought to research the "link between sexual identity of a subject and his Israeli identity and outlook on political and civic issues" in his social science project.
His research included 100 teen-aged subjects, 50 homosexuals and 50 heterosexuals.
The term paper project was approved by the teacher, and the project turned out to be a comprehensive work. However, the person in charge of term papers at the northern district of the Education Ministry, Susie Lipin, disqualified the paper for its contents.
"According to the Ministry of Education", she explained, "students cannot be associated with homosexuality."
"I was surprised by the reason given," Blum said. "It’s a shame that the Education Ministry acts in such racist way toward a specific population, especially since only a few days ago the world marked the International Day against Homophobia."
"I believe the policy should be changed in regards to these issues, and the education ministry should open its eyes and get out of the Stone Age when it comes to different kinds of populations," added Blum.
"The Education Ministry demands of us to be tolerant, but the ministry itself is not. In my view, the subject is worthy of research. I wanted to investigate whether certain groups who are perceived as separated from the population are actually part of our people," commented the student.
Ministry: Student’s paper to be reexamined
The school principal, Gadi Rahav, supported the term paper.
"We very much encourage the students to get involved in issues that they find interesting and I support the project," he said.
"Occasionally we find ourselves facing organizations that are more powerful than us, and we are precluded from defending such student. The system is afraid of handling certain controversial subjects be it social, political, or ideological. At this school we encourage democracy, and when it comes to homosexuality, liberalism is no longer afraid of handling this subject," said Rahav.
Ministry of Education officials said in response: "There is no ban in the director-general memorandum which prohibits association of students with homosexuality, and it is unnecessary to say that the ministry is not against homosexuality."
"Moreover, the sexual education curriculum and family life curriculum include a chapter that deals with homosexuality and acceptance of different families, not necessarily families with a father, mother, and kids. In principle, there is no obstacle for students to research this issue, within the education curriculum and subjected to the educational staff supervision," an official added.
The student’s term paper, the official continued, "will be reexamined" since "this case is the result of a misunderstanding between the supervisor and the instructions of the psychological service at the ministry."