Beit Berl’s Department for Early Childhood Education offered a new course this year on teacher-parent relations, developed in response to a real and growing need in the field for better understanding and relations among teachers and parents. The course sought to educate and train our students – tomorrow’s kindergarten teachers – to fully understand the roles of teachers and parents, and to view parents as partners.
In this context, the course hosted Shachar Abramovich, a representative from HOSHEN, a non-profit volunteer organization that challenges stereotypes surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity, to speak with our students about LGBT families. The guest lecturer presented the audience of pre-service teachers with examples of daily challenges from family life in the gender spectrum, and correct ways of reference in creating a safe place for LGBT children and families. Shachar’s talk gave thought to experiences and perspectives the students had never considered - things as simple as the parent contact form each student is required to fill out, which asks for the name of the mother and father. Shachar stimulated debate in speaking about parents and children that exhibit gender fluidity, even at the pre-school age – not known by many, but that exists. All 35 students of the course found the meeting extraordinarily insightful, garnering knowledge and perspectives that will service them well in their future profession as kindergarten teachers. The course has since become a general requirement for all students of early childhood education.
The lecture took place at a pivotal time in Israel when the rights of the LGBT community have come under attack. Nationwide rallies and strikes took place in July to protest the exclusion of gay couples from a recently passed surrogacy law, with over 100,000 protesters gathering in Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv to protest anti-LGBT discrimination.