Israel to Transfer a Transgender Boy From His School Mid-year Due to Pressure From Parents

The student's family appealed the decision to court. According to the Education Ministry's central district chief, the transfer was in the boy's best interests, but a professional opinion obtained by his family said it would hurt him and worsen his condition

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Moreshet Naria School in Givat Shmuel.
Moreshet Naria School in Givat Shmuel.Credit: Moti Milrod

Despite his family's wishes, the Education Ministry decided to move a third-grade transgender student out of his state religious school in the central Israeli city of Givat Shmuel.

Despite ministry sources saying the decision was made as a compromise with his mother, the family filed an administrative court petition against the transfer on Tuesday.

The suit comes two weeks after the parents of some of the boy’s classmates asked the Lod District Court to order the Education Ministry and Givat Shmuel municipality to require the student – which the suit called a "girl student" – to come to school "in clothing that matches her biological sex" and stop referring to herself as a boy. Alternatively, they asked the court to allow them to register their children at another state-religious school that “follows their education direction.”

In response to a request by the school’s principal, the head of the Education Ministry's central district, Varda Ophir, ordered the boy to be transferred to a different school, saying it was the best option for the child. The ministry said that it was “a complicated, unique and sensitive case” and that "the ministry and the educational teams work solely for the benefit of the student.”

Education Ministry's building in Jerusalem.Credit: Emil Salman

However, a professional opinion obtained by his parents concluded that the situation at his current school was good and that forcing him to transfer to another school in the middle of the year would exacerbate his condition and cause him harm.

Michael Sfard, the attorney representing the child, told Haaretz that the ministry’s decision “sends a message that parents who are determined, loud and violent enough can force any student who is dealing with exceptional [situations] of any kind to be removed from school. I can’t explain the Education Ministry’s position, other than it has aligned itself with the political forces that have gained control of the ministry. This is a classic case of hypocrisy.”

The boy’s family expressed a willingness to move him into another educational institution at the end of the school year, but Ophir determined that the move should take place during the term. The decision was first reported by Israel's Arutz Sheva news outlet on Tuesday.

The ministry is supposed to find the child a new school that the family accepts, but so far no school has been found that meets the family's needs.

The Israel National Council for the Child called the decision "unfortunate" and said that the district director would do well to reconsider it.

Last month, Haaretz reported that a separate class had been set up in a local synagogue by the parents of about 13 children, about half the class total. The parent had demanded that a class be formed without the boy and until that happened they would conduct a separate one of their own. The other students in the class continued to attend school as usual.

In addition, the Education Ministry said at the time that it would not allow a separate class to be set up, but Haaretz has learned that the 13 children continue to study at the alternative class being run out of the synagogue.

Last September, a group of parents revealed the identity of the student and staged protests against his continued presence in the classroom, joined by Knesset member Michal Woldiger (Religious Zionism). When the child began the first grade, his mother asked the teaching team to address her child as male and not to reveal he was female at birth.

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