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Tel Aviv is set to portray non-heteronormative families in schools

Meka Beresford January 14, 2017

Schools in Tel Aviv are set to update Shabbat-welcoming services held in municipal preschools to portray a variety of non-heteronormative families.

The move aims to reflect and represent families living in the city more proportionately.

LGBT and single parent family structures will be introduced to teach young children diversity and coexistence from a younger age.

A number of pre schools in the city have already taken on the recommendation and have begun to hold Shabbat-welcoming services that differ from tradition. The service welcomes Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest in the week.

Gali Shine-Tal and Itai Himmelfarb, psychologists from the public counselling service of Tel Aviv, said that sending a message of diversity from a young age is incredibly important for children’s development.

Himmelfarb explained: “It’s important to us that the social climate in preschool be positive and encouraging to the families. Our goal is to produce thinking that takes into account LGBT families.”

Shine-Tao reported a mixed response from teachers and schools across the city. While a majority of the response was positive, some teachers displayed a less tolerant view of changing the service.

“We’re trying to render the positions more flexible and enable accepting reference because this is important to children’s development,” she explained. “We’re telling them that they need to distinguish between personal views and the educational views.”

Both the psychologists stressed that especially in Tel Aviv “it’s important to strengthen the children’s expressing of empathy for the feelings of every child, and on the other hand, to strengthen (the sentiment) that their family is worthwhile, good, complete, proper and loving.”

Last year, a poll found that Israeli support for equal marriage had dramatically surged, with 76% of Israelis saying they support same-sex civil marriage or registration.

The government has taken note of the surge in acceptance, and soon spouses of Israelis who have tied the knot in countries where same-sex marriage is legal may soon be able to claim Israeli citizenship at the same speed as straight couples, following an announcement by the country’s attorney general.

Until now, same-sex spouses were forced to wait up to seven years and would generally only be granted permanent residency rather than citizenship. The process was far quicker for those in straight marriages.

The country has added more than $5 million to a fund set up to address the needs of the LGBT community.

The money will be provided to various government ministries for initiatives set up to benefit LGBT Israelis. It will be stretched over the period of the next two years.

The announcement came after LGBT activists accused Israel of ‘pinkwashing’ to attract tourists while neglecting LGBT groups when they planed to use $2.9 million to increase gay tourism in the country, but just $396,000 was awarded to LGBT groups.

More: Children, Equality, heteronormative, Israel, Israel, LGBT, Middle East, school, Tel Aviv

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