Friday, 22 January 2016

Two interesting stories on The Age Education Facebook page today

Students at Victoria's Catholic high schools who might be thinking of bringing a same-sex partner to their school formal have won support from an unlikely source.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart has urged schools to be sensitive and respectful to students who wanted to invite a same-sex date to the biggest night of the year.
Archbishop Hart says that, when it comes to formals, schools should have ' respect for the dignity of the human being involved'.
"These are quite often emotional situations and it's very important that we always have respect for the dignity of the human being involved," he said.

Archbishop Hart made the comments when Fairfax asked for his response to a previously unreported case at the Academy of Mary Immaculate in Fitzroy.
A student at the girls school started an online petition on last year after being told by the Year 12 co-ordinator that she couldn't bring a female partner to the formal.
"I see no logical, just reason for this ban," the student, who has since sought anonymity, said.
"The Academy's mission statement places great emphasis on social justice, equality and respect for all people."

The  petition received 1250 signatures and hundreds of comments in support.
The school responded by changing its stance to allow the student to bring a female date,
Archbishop Hart said he appreciated the school's turnabout and believed it had "shown great sensitivity in what is an unusual scenario".
"Students in a secondary school are growing up and in developmental stages where relationships are more like strong friendships and are not usually permanent, they are not in a situation where they are committing," Archbishop Hart said in a statement to Fairfax Media.
"The Catholic Church respects any relationship but always sticks quite firmly with its teaching that a relationship in the eyes of the church is heterosexual, between a male and female, and that is something we would always stand by."
Archbishop Hart was criticised last year for allegedly burying Jesuit Social Services's Not So Straight report, which had found widespread bullying and homophobic abuse of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students in Catholic schools, leading to high-levels of self harm, and even suicide.

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....and then again....

A former principal who fled to Israel after allegedly molesting her students is doing "whatever she can" to avoid extradition to Australia, a victims support group says.
Malka Leifer​, the former principal of the Adass Israel School in Melbourne is under house arrest in Israel and authorities have been trying to extradite her to Australia for more than a year.
The former head of the Orthodox Jewish school is wanted on 74 counts of sexual assault.
Michelle Meyer, the chief executive of Jewish victims support group Tzedek, said Ms Leifer was avoiding extradition "at all costs."

"She is using whatever strategies she can to avoid being extradited. She is avoiding appearing in court and is claiming she is not fit to appear in court."
Ms Leifer claims she has suffered panic attacks ahead of every court appearance.
According to reports from Israel Radio, the Jerusalem District Court has heard evidence from mental health experts that the former principal's panic attacks are genuine.
Her lawyers have requested that the court reject the extradition request because of Ms Leifer's mental state.
Ms Meyer said she had spoken to the Israeli attorney involved in the extradition and they were "taking the matter very seriously".
"It is intolerable for these poor victims. It is causing them significant emotional pain and suffering. The court process is part of the healing, part of the closure."
In September, one of Ms Leifer's victims was awarded more than $1 million in damages – one of the state's largest payouts in a child sex abuse case – for the trauma she suffered at the hands of her principal.
The former student said she was 15 when the abuse started. It took place between 2003 and 2006 at the school's Elsternwick campus, at Ms Leifer's home and on school camps. Another student allegedly abused by Ms Leifer has also initiated legal action.
Police are investigating the behaviour of the Adass Israel School board, who arranged to fly Ms Leifer out of the country after allegations of abuse were raised in 2008.
"The investigation remains active and ongoing," a police spokeswoman 

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