Right-wing MK holds protest against transgender boy in religious school

Religious LGBTQ+ group says right-wing Israeli activists are protesting "against the well-being of a child, while messing with his genitals."

The Transgender Pride Flag flies on the Foreign Office building in London on Transgender Day of Remembrance, 20 November 2017. (photo credit: FOREIGN COMMONWEALTH & DEVELOPMENT OFFICE)
The Transgender Pride Flag flies on the Foreign Office building in London on Transgender Day of Remembrance, 20 November 2017.
(photo credit: FOREIGN COMMONWEALTH & DEVELOPMENT OFFICE)

The Religious Zionist Party helped hold a protest in front of a religious public elementary school in central Israel on Friday after the B'Sheva newspaper reported last week that a transgender boy had been accepted into the school without the parents being informed of the boy's sex assigned at birth.

The B'Sheva article referred to the "transgender phenomenon" and repeatedly referred to the boy in the feminine, expressing concerns that children could be "exposed" to the existence of transgender people and that this could cause "trauma."

The newspaper reported that a number of parents were outraged at not being informed about the situation and quoted a number of them under pseudonyms. According to the article, the staff at the school and the Education Ministry were aware of the situation.

"Of course its awful," said one parent identified under the pseudonym "David." "Why does my child need to know at such a young age that there are things like this in the world?"

David also expressed concerns that telling the children that "your friend is not what you thought" could "shake up their world." The parent called the incident "deception" and stressed that "it is irrational that we are dealing with this [in a religious school]."

Parents protest against transgender boy in front of a religious public school in central Israel, September 9, 2022 (credit: Courtesy)Parents protest against transgender boy in front of a religious public school in central Israel, September 9, 2022 (credit: Courtesy)

Parents demand resignation of the head the Council for State-Religious Education

On Friday, a group of parents arrived at the school with Religious Zionist MK Michal Woldiger and demanded the resignation of the head of the Council for State-Religious Education.

The parents involved in the protest have refused to send their children to school since the start of the year due to the situation.

"Parents are entitled to an education system for their children that fits their worldview and values," said Roni Sassover, the lawyer representing the parents. "Despite the efforts to resolve the issue during the summer vacation while putting the welfare of all the children in the first order of priority, no response was given by [the Council for State-Religious Education]. We will not hesitate to continue to apply for legal proceedings against those in the system who led to this situation."

Havruta: Demonstrators protesting 'against the well-being of a child'

The Havruta organization, which advocates for LGBTQ+ religious Israelis, responded to the protest on Friday, saying that the "hate lobby is working overtime against the community and against our children."

"Against what [are they protesting]?" questioned Havruta. "Against the well-being of a child, while messing with his genitals (a subject that only interests pedophiles) and in favor of transphobia."

"Michal Woldiger, a member of the Knesset who is a member of the lobby for mental health, which usually claims to help the weak, also chose this time to side with those who seek to abuse the most vulnerable group in the population, and a child - who is powerless in the face of the madness that is happening here. The hate lobby did more, when they spread defamatory rumors and lies about the boy and his mother."

The organization added that the protesters should "be ashamed" and called on them to go home and prepare for Shabbat.

"Perhaps just the preparation for the holy day, in which the Almighty completed the creation of his world, and in which women and different and diverse people were also created - will atone for the hatred towards these creations," said Havruta. "Hatch a plot—it shall be foiled; Agree on action—it shall not succeed. For with us is God! (Isaiah 8:10)"

Parents say Israeli state education system 'denying their rights'

The parents protesting claimed that the State-Religious Education system was "denying their rights" and that they are protesting the "destruction" of a state-religious school. "We fight for our faith, for our right to be religious people and to adapt our content and principles to our children. It is our right to fight for a religious character in a school of Torah."

Woldiger stated that a school defined as following the Torah "cannot contain progressive identity confusions and certainly cannot contain such concealment and deception and determine for the parents a reality that is not desirable for them." 

"I call on the Education Ministry, the Council for State-Religious Education and the municipality to immediately rectify the situation and allow the children of the class to return and study together, without exposing them to abnormal phenomena that are in complete contrast to their religious lifestyle."

Protest comes amid political tensions surrounding Council for State-Religious Education appointments

The protest comes as the right-wing Religious Zionist and Noam parties continue to express outrage against the new members of the Council for State-Religious Education recently appointed by Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and approved by the government.

In an interview with the Kipa news site, Noam Party leader Avi Maoz complained that the appointments should not have been done during an election season and claimed they were "illegal" and would be canceled after the election.

"This is a list in which Yeshiva Har Etzion has four members, this is an attempt to take over by Deputy Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, those minor and marginal rabbis will be in the [Council for State-Religious Education], Har Etzion will not take over here," added Maoz.

The party leader later apologized to Yeshivat Har Etzion, although Rabbi Moshe Lichtenstein, one of the rosh yeshivas at the yeshiva, requested that Maoz apologize personally to each of the rabbis at the yeshiva.