The Education Ministry has decided to include the Israel Gay Youth Organization (IGY) in its mandatory volunteering program, Ynet learned Monday.
The ministry’s volunteering program aims to get high school students – usually 10-12 graders – involved in their local communities by assisting various social groups. Participating in the program is a mandatory requirement for graduation.
The program volunteering options for students: They can work with Magen David Adom emergency services or the Israel Fire and Rescue Services; they can tutor other students, or help in shelters, animal rights groups or youth group
The Israel Gay Youth Organization is a recognized youth group and as such was eligible to be included in the program.
A formal motion to that effect was filed with the ministry after a shooting attack on a gay youth center in Tel Aviv claimed the lives of two teenagers.
“After the attack, our youth began taking more of a stand. We saw more and more teens come out, and many more that asked to volunteer with us… Now they can finally get school credit for that,” Noa Raz, head of resource development for IGY, told Ynet.
“This is wonderful. After all these years of homophobia for the elite to legitimize something that could get you killed in the past,” Gil Meister, a high school senior from Kfar Saba, who volunteers with IGY, told Ynet.
“Before the attack, a lot of kids thought society’s attitude towards the (gay) community was cool. Afterwards, we all found out just how much hate there still was… there’s much more awareness now.”
Hana Schwartz, of the Education Ministry’s Youth Group Administration, told Ynet that the Israel Gay Youth Organization “underwent the same procedure all youth groups must undergo before they are included in the program.”