I have a feeling that a few people from the Texas State Board of Education were suddenly given leadership positions in Israel’s education ministry. Either that, or the entire organization just caved in to the flavor of ultra-Orthodox men who wear funny glasses to blur out any potential women as they’re walking around or completely lose their shit when they see a woman sitting in the front of a bus.
The Education Ministry has asked textbook publishers to eliminate chapters on human reproduction, pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted diseases from science textbooks used in state religious junior high schools as well as from their teacher manuals, Haaretz has learned.
[…] the ministry began requesting additional changes, such as eliminating any reference to the female body throughout the book, softening any text or image liable to offend religious sensibilities and using examples more suitable to a religious lifestyle. As a result, one publishing executive said, some publishers who originally agreed to make the revisions changed their minds after realizing their scope.
These changes only affect religious schools; they have no effect on the secular school system or its sex education curriculum. Still, such draconian measures to restrict information about even the most rudimentary primer on sexual education and reproductive science puts an entire generation of children at risk of dealing with adolescence without even the first clue of what’s going on within their own bodies. This, in the opinion of the “education” ministry, is suppose to help them and bring them into a closer relationship with God? Do they have any clue what’s been going on here at home, in states with abstinence only “education”? It’s a train wreck.
The sad thing is, according to the article, that’s the only time students have a chance to learn about human sexuality. With these new measures, that opportunity is lost unless they sign up for a biology class in high school.
Currently, junior high school science texts have chapters on animal, vegetable and human reproduction. The human chapter includes pictures of the male and female reproductive systems and of a sperm fertilizing an egg, as well as explanations of the menstrual cycle.
According to the Education Ministry’s curriculum, the chapter “invites treatment of the issues of preventing pregnancy and preventing sexually transmitted diseases, with sensitivity and adjustments for the target audience.” This treatment is supposed to cover both “behavioral and technological methods” of prevention.
Well, not anymore. If the education ministry has its way, this will all be censored in order to placate some archaic, backwards religious sensibilities that are far more concerned with keeping young people ignorant rather than putting them in a position to avoid accidentally getting pregnant or contracting a preventable disease. We’ll see within the span of a few years the kind of effect this will have on STI and teen pregnancy rates in the religious population … because as we know from recent history, not telling kids about sex doesn’t keep them from having it. All it does is make their behavior far less safe.
Thankfully, it appears that the rest of Israel is phenomenally pissed off about this too. Secular and moderate religious groups alike are in agreement on the dangers of the kind of censorship that can easily turn sex education into nothing more than trial and error. With this magnitude of opposition, it’s my hope that the ministry will reverse their decision and – with the help of the secular groups on one side and religious moderates on the other – pry their heads out of their asses.